PET Landscape, Plastic Innovation Highlighted at Conference

Originally titled 'PET Landscape, Plastic Innovation Highlighted at Packaging Conference'

Presenters at The Packaging Conference noted one advantage PET has over other packaging mediums is its ability to grow through technology.

Presenters at The Packaging Conference noted one advantage PET has over other packaging mediums is its ability to grow through technology.

 

Here are some highlights from the various presentations during the conference (Feb. 8-10; Henderson, Nev.), I’ll have a more in-depth report in an upcoming edition of Plastics Technology magazine.

 

PET Outlook
The PET value chain has benefited from the shale and crude advantage of the last two years, but Aloke Lohia, group CEO of Indorama Ventures PCL, Bangkok, Thailand, cautioned the audience that this will not last. He said to expect the price of PET to go up.

 

“The price of energy stocks going down has allocated some manufacturing to continue even in a weak environment,” he said. “As prices go up, we will see some constraints.”

 

PET resin demand for 2016 is at 24.2 million tons, according to Steven Ates, managing director of SBA-CCI, Ocean Springs, Miss. PET packaging resin production is forecast to grow at about 6.2%/yr globally now through 2020. In looking at 2015-2020, he said that PET rationalization will continue globally as integration into PTA/PET will become the norm.

 

Bottled Water Is King
There was a time where many environmentalists pushed for the usage of less bottled water and for consumers to embrace tap water. Well, according to Gary Hemphill, managing director and COO at Beverage Marketing Corp., New York, consumers are instead embracing the bottle—PET bottled water that is. In looking at the U.S. beverage marketplace, bottled water has seen accelerated growth over the last two years. Refreshment beverages are up 3% and a lot of that is being driven by bottled water.

 

“Declining tap water consumption is a positive for the industry,” he said. “The decline of tap water is really a reflection of a healthy beverage industry.”

 

Bottled water has gained the most volume over the last 10 years while carbonated soft drinks have lost the most. PET single-serve bottled water is 67% of the bottled water market. Over last five years, ‪plastics has seen the highest growth due mostly to the success of the bottled water category.

 

“Advances in supply chain, declining resin cost, light weighting, lower fuel costs are all contributing to single-serve PET bottled water market growth,” he said. “Water is a great place to be.”

 

Hemphill said that it’s inevitable that bottled water will surpass carbonated soft drinks as the No. 1 beverage category in the U.S. He predicts this will happen either by the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017.

 

Continue to Innovate
Denise Lefebvre, vice president of the global beverage packaging of PepsiCo., Purchase, NY, focused on packaging innovation during her presentation. Pepsi’s approach has the consumer in mind for the entire lifecycle of a package: when they use it, why, how and what happens afterward.

 

“Across the lifecycle, there is innovation opportunity, and we want to be able to push the button and go in a meaningful direction,” she said. “Unless we start thinking in more of an innovation mindset, we will continue to miss an opportunity and shrink our volume collectively as an industry. We don’t do as much innovation as an industry due to lead time, and I urge us all to fix that.”

 

During a separate presentation, one example of packaging innovation was the TruVue clear  plastic can developed by global packaging company Sonoco, Hartsville, S.C. (read more here). It consists of a multi-layer structure featuring PP and EVOH and is processed using multilayer extrusion. Sonoco expects TruVue to be commercial this year.

 

“Consumers want this transparency—what you see is what you get,” said Jeffrey Schuetz, staff vice president, global technology - consumer packaging at Sonoco. “It’s good for processors because it runs on existing assets, and it will deliver the product protection that consumers are looking for.”

 

He went on to say that he doesn’t believe plastic cans will take over the entire metal market but that there is a strong niche in certain categories that are well suited for the plastic can.

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