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Innovations in PET Presentations at Drinktec 2009

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In 2009 more than 400,000,000,000 (400 billion!) plastic containers may well be used worldwide for beverage filling, a record figure which would account for around a third of all beverage packaging units. This figure alone proves how incredibly important plastic packaging is in the industry, and the raw material PET is the star of the show. drinktec 2009, World Fair for Beverage and Liquid Food Technology, presents all the innovations to do with PET at the New Munich Trade Fair Centre from 14 to 19 September 2009.

PETpoint
The PET presentation is operating under its own label, PETpoint, within drinktec 2009. PETpoint covers 11,000 square metres in Hall B3, and everything is centred on PET. Preform manufacturers are represented, as are blow-moulding machine producers, suppliers of recycling equipment, closure suppliers, container developers and designers and converters, that is to say all companies involved in the PET production process. The co-organiser of PETpoint is the magazine PETplanet Insider, from Heidelberg publishing house hb media. In addition the full-service providers in Halls B6, A6, and B4 also exhibit all aspects of PET.

Containers – from concept to design
What are all the stages involved in producing a design for a PET bottle? It all starts with an idea from the marketing department of a bottling company, an advertising agency or the manufacturer of the blow mould or blow-moulding machine, who develop and test ideas together until a new container design is conceived. Of course pre-tested standard bottle shapes from preform and container manufacturers, which can be used straight away with no costly preliminary stages, are also available. A special form is hotfill containers, which are suitable for hot filling beverages such as juices or tea-based drinks in such a way that their shelf life is extended.

Barrier technology is key for new markets
An issue that keeps cropping up is that of the optimal composition of plastic containers, to prevent or at least reduce the amount of oxygen and light penetrating the product and carbonic acid and flavours leaking from it. There are various ways of achieving this: the use of multi-layer bottles, the use of different material blends, or coating the bottles from inside and/or outside, e.g. with silicon oxide, a material similar to glass, plus if required fitting an oxygen scavenger in the lid. There is also talk of applying a protective layer using low-pressure plasmas. In any case an appropriate and economically justifiable barrier technology could be the key to new markets.

Alternatives to PET (see also drinktec Press Release no. 39)
PEN material (polyethylene naphthalate) is still very expensive. Polypropylene (PP) bottles are only suitable for non-carbonated beverages, but for these, and for milk and milk-based beverages or juices in particular, they are a very good economic alternative. Organic plastics based on polylactic acids or made from corn starch are now present in the (non-carbonated) beverage market, for example.
Clear polylactide (PLA) is also the subject of the 2nd PLA Bottle Conference, which is taking place on 14 and 15 September in the Holiday Inn in Munich City Centre. The event is being organised by bioplastics Magazine.

Less weight – less cost
Reducing the weight of the bottle is a very big topic, because this can save a lot of money. A comparison with products exhibited at drinktec 2005 shows how rapid the development in ‘lightweighting’ has been. Four years ago a blow-moulding machine manufacturer presented the world’s lightest 0.5 litre PET bottle, weighing just 12 g with a top load of more than 15 kg, as an innovation in Munich. Today the lightest 0.5 litre PET container used in practice weighs 8.8 g with a top load of over 30 kg. The load capacity when stacking has more than doubled with over 25 percent less weight. Enormous cost benefits have resulted from the reduction in weight, to say nothing of an improvement in sustainability. Every tenth of a gram less per container reduces the material requirement dramatically, conserves oil resources, from which PET is obtained after all, and reduces transport costs. However this weight reduction must not come at the expense of consumer convenience. Retaining that bottle-like feel is important – what the consumer does not want is to end up with a soft, pouch-like container that compresses as he opens it.

It will be exciting to see the new technologies exhibitors will be presenting at drinktec 2009. What is the current lower limit for bottle weight, for example?

3rd PET World Congress
Answers to these and many other questions will be supplied at the PET World Congress, which is taking place for the third time and rounds off what drinktec has to offer on the subject of PET. It brings together interested parties, start-ups and experts, and deals with all relevant issues on technology and marketing.
All essential stages in the life cycle of a PET bottle will be covered in four lecture blocks:
Block 1: From the pellet to the pallet – everything to do with PET bottles
Block 2: Beverage Innovation Award 2009 – a talk about the winners in the PET sector
Block 3: Cooking oils – an underestimated market for PET?
Block 4: Exciting new products for PET filling

The congress is taking place on 16 and 17 September in the ICM. The organizer is the Heidelberg-based publishing house hb media.
For further information go to: www.drinktec.com and www.hbmedia.info

Another highlight on the subject of PET: the Beverage Innovation Awards on 15 September will include awards for the best design in PET and the best PET technology innovation (for more information go to www.beverageawards.com).

Note: With around 1500 exhibitors from 70 countries – 10 more than 2005 – international participation in drinktec is greater than ever. The proportion of foreign exhibitors is 55 percent, also a new record!

About drinktec
drinktec is the World Fair for Beverage and Liquid Food Technology. It is the most important trade fair for the sector. Manufacturers and suppliers from all over the world – global companies and SMEs alike – meet up here with all the key producers and retailers of beverages and liquid food products. Within the sector drinktec is regarded as the number one platform for launching new products on the world market. The fact that the entire production chain is represented at drinktec emphasises the fair´s role as the world´s leading trade fair for the sector. Manufacturers come along to present the latest technology for producing, filling and packaging beverages of all kinds, as well as liquid food – including raw materials and logistics solutions. A special feature of drinktec is that entire machinery systems and plant are set up here and demonstrated in action – this kind of a display is unique to drinktec. drinktec 2009, which takes place at the New Munich Trade Fair Centre from 14 to 19 September 2009, is expected to attract around 1,500 exhibitors from around 70 countries, and around 70,000 visitors from over 160 countries.

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