PET, a greener spirits package

Amcor_-McCormick_360BoxPET plastic bottles, even the 100% post consumer recycled variety, are being considered more seriously by alcoholic beverage companies. They have a number of advantages.

Cost is the most obvious. But there also seem to be other advantages when looking at the full life cycle of the bottles. I was speaking with a packaging professional in the spirits industry last week and he mentioned doing an analysis of the life cycle implications of glass vs plastic bottles for one of their brands.

They figured there would be a very significant reduction in the number of truckloads of bottles into the bottling location if they switched from glass to plastic. The number would go from 1,266 truckloads per year for glass down to 719 truckloads for PET plastic. That’s a reduction of 547 truckloads, or 43% a year (that’s over two truckloads every business day) from their bottle manufacturer to the plant, and that’s only for one of their brands, and for only one part of the production, distribution, retail chain!

Now you may be thinking of just the carbon footprint reduction, but he also suggested that the cost savings, again just on this one brand, could be several million dollars a year, that’s a lot of carbon. Can you imagine the implications for the entire industry.

But I am a designer, and I know there has been a real consumer reluctance to accept spirits packaged in anything but glass, especially premium spirits, which is where much of the new product activity is these days.

It will be interesting to see if the general increase in the use of recyclable plastic containers eventually translates into an increased consumer acceptance of PET plastic for premium spirits. My hunch is, that in spite of the environmental advantages, it may take a while.


The photo above shows McCormick Distilling’s eco friendly 360 vodka in a 100% PCR PET 50 ml bottle. This was featured in a recent post on


About Richard Shear

designer, husband, teacher, blogger, father, athlete, author, historian Richard has over 25 years of brand identity and package design experience, with a wide range of clients such as Ahold, Coca-Cola, Hasbro, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Pernod Ricard and Procter & Gamble. He began his career working with the legendary advertising art director, and AIGA Medalist, George Lois and the British design manager Clive Chajet. In his next design management position at Lippincott & Margulies, he worked with Walter Margulies learning the complex skills of global corporate identity. He then became Creative Director and Partner at Peterson & Blyth, one of the premier brand identity and package design firms of the time. He is a founding faculty member of the Masters in Branding Program at New York’s School of Visual Arts. He publishes the blog The Package Unseen, and has been a guest lecturer at colleges including FIT, Trinity College and Tyler School of Art. He is a graduate of the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. Richard is a Board member of the AIGA MetroNorth Chapter, past President of AIGA‘s Brand Design Association, President of the Package Design Council and a member of its Board of Directors. He is a member of USA Cycling and US Rowing, a nationally ranked masters bicycle racer, and a member of The Saugatuck Rowing Club, the 2010 Masters Club National Champion.
This entry was posted in Beverages, Design Practice, Environmental Packaging, Wine, Beer, & Spirits and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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