Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) has enjoyed market dominance as the soft drink container of choice in most of the 21st century. However, according to a presenter at a plastics industry conference hosted by Ringier Events and held in Shanghai in March 2018, a variety of circumstances are helping aluminum, glass and paperboard container makers regain some market share.
Mike Zhu, a packaging manager involved in research and development at the Shanghai office of France-based Danone Waters, said PET bottles for water and flavored water drinks began losing market share to aluminum cans, glass bottles and multi-material cartons in the first half of this decade.
According to figures gathered by Danone, PET’s market share in the bottled and flavored water market may have peaked at about 70 percent in 2014 and has slowly drifted downward to about 68.7 percent currently.
The biggest gainer in that timeframe has been the aluminum can, which has seen its market share rise from 13.4 percent at the beginning of the decade to 16.7 percent currently. “North America leads in the use of innovative non-PET packaging” for bottled and flavored water, said Zhu.
Sustainability and the high recycling rate for aluminum cans has played a role, according to Zhu. He said guilt caused by plastic in the world’s oceans has caused some shoppers to avoid PET and plastic bottles, and also is “causing brands to rethink” their packaging strategies.
Zhu said one recent poll found that “40 percent of Italians feel guilty if they don’t recycle their plastic,” a figure that is likely even higher in some other nations. Among brand owners, Coca-Cola has recently committed to using 50 percent recycled-content PET by 2020, a goal that Zhu said could prove difficult considering only about 6.6 percent of the world’s plastic is currently recycled annually.
Younger consumers also have been gravitating toward “slim cans,” which debuted in the energy drink market but now also have a presence in the flavored water sector. Zhu said male shoppers in particular are comfortable consuming both energy drinks and beer in aluminum cans, and thus show little reluctance to buying flavored waters in the same type of package.
The craft beer movement also has had an effect on younger and male consumers, with the same people who consider bottled beer as being of high quality also eager to purchase flavored water and refrigerated tea and coffee drinks in glass bottles.
Older consumers in Japan and other parts of Asia, meanwhile, have been showing a preference for flavored or “healthy” water products packaged in white plastic resins, and designed to look like antacids and other bottled health care products.
One other trend mentioned by Zhu has been flavored water and juices sold in smaller “shot” sizes (100 milliliters or 3.3 ounces or less), designed to appeal to shoppers trying to exercise portion control. Should these smaller sizes proliferate, recycling plant operators may have less material to process and may have to reconfigure equipment to handle the smaller containers.
Source: Recycling Today Media Group
Date Published: March 12, 2018
Author: Brian Taylor