In recent years we have seen an increasing trend in PET packaging competing with glass, paper, cardboard cartons, metal and single-stage plastics industries. This is a trend we’re expecting to see grow during 2016.

This trend is in response to the growing shift in the market dynamic and regulatory landscape

This has many consequences for the plastic packaging industry, including: a recognition that biological or organic packaging substrates that divert resources from food production may not be economically, politically or socially responsible; self-regulation by industry wherever possible throughout the supply chain, driven through innovation; the EU looking to strengthen the Packaging Waste Directive, with re-use continuing to have a higher priority than recycling; and individual governments seeking to complement or overtake supra-national measures, for example: the banning of BPA for food contact in various jurisdictions including France; and the German government looking at strengthening the positioning of refillables with improved labelling, increase in levies and expansion to other beverages other than just CSD and drinking water.

Brands are therefore looking for plastic packaging that is economic; sustainable solutions that reduce material usage, and thereby cost, throughout each product’s lifecycle, and that are not only efficient but also essentially free from waste throughout the supply chain.

With advancements in blow moulding, resin and preform design technology, it is possible to produce innovative, lightweight PET packaging that improves environmental credentials whilst not compromising on performance, strength or appearance.

We expect to see the European brewing industry continue to swap heavy, returnable steel kegs, which are expensive to transport and frequently not returned, for one-way PET kegs for this reason.

One-way PET kegs are lighter to transport, space-saving, and the standard deposit required on a steel keg is obsolete. Lightweight one-way kegs can also be transported further, in higher volumes, at a lower cost, allowing producers to deliver new sales volumes to wider markets, with an improved profit margin, opening up new, global opportunities for brewers.

The one-way kegs also support peak draught sales to enable larger brewers to size their metal keg fleets to fit base load volumes instead of peak volumes.

Another advantage of the one-way keg is that brewers are able to significantly reduce their carbon footprint. They are recyclable, and carry a ‘no return’ policy; the end user can simply recycle them, cutting down the hassle, cost, and environmental impact of returning them to the brewery. This means PET kegs could substantially reduce the environmental impact of the brewing industry.

PET is also transforming the plastic packaging of smaller volume products across Europe. In almost every European country refillable PET plastic containers are used to some extent for at least one type of beverage. After use, containers are collected through deposit systems, returned to the brand owner to be sterilised and filled, and then re-distributed to the market.

But it’s not only environmental benefits that are driving the growth of this market in Europe; there’s a very real economic benefit that improves the total cost of ownership for retailers and product quality too.

The intricacies of PET technology allow many products to be effectively stored and perform as well if not better than in metal, steel, cardboard carton etc. plastic packaging, meaning quality and taste is not compromised.

An extensive range of materials and barrier properties used, guarantees that consumers experience the best a product has to offer. An active oxygen scavenger in the Polyester Plus material prevents oxygen penetrating the product and reduces CO2 loss. Pigments in the polyester guard the contents against infiltration of UV light and the degradation it can cause. Essentially, this means that quality and taste are not compromised compared to other types of packaging.

With on-going environmental, social and economic pressures driving companies across Europe to behave in a more sustainable manner, we expect to see a continued increase in the number of products packaged in PET plastic; meeting regulatory requirements, while at the same time potentially saving businesses money and improving product quality.