New generation of drinks bottles are lighter and easier to recycle

A new generation of plastic bottles designed by Japan's major drinks manufacturers are easier to hold, lighter and far easier to recycle.

Kirin Beverage Co. recently won two international awards for the latest version of its "pecology bottle," with the judges in the Asian Star Contest 2010 for the packaging industry "recognising the superiority of the product's universal design, which combines technology and reduced weight."

These advances are good for consumers as reduced packaging cuts companies' costs and bottles are increasingly designed to fit comfortably in a person's hand.

Kirin has begun introducing new 2-litre bottles for its popular "Alkali ion Water" drink, with the new versions weighing just 35 grams when empty, 7 grams less than the old bottles, according to company spokesman Hiroshi Onuki.

Now the lightest 2-litre bottle available, Kirin says the change will allow it to save "tens of millions of yen" every year as the plastic - or polyethylene terephthalate (PET) - used for the bottles will be reduced by more than 800 tons a year.

The new easy-to-grip design incorporates a series of ribs and ridges that have been created to stop a bottle slipping out of a person's grasp.

Japan's other drinks companies have caught on to the advantages of lean and green bottles, with both Suntory Beverage and Food Ltd. and Asahi Soft Drinks Co. cutting the plastic in their bottles of mineral water and tea, while Ito En Ltd. has managed to reduce the weight of its 500-milliliter tea bottles to just 19 grams. That saves the company around Y800 million (€7.2 million) a year, Ito En said.

Kirin developed its first pecology bottle in 2003, reducing the weight to 42 grams from the previous version's 63 grams.

"The good thing about pecology bottles is that they use less PET, are easy to squash after use, have greater recyclability and have a universal design to make them easy to hold and pour from," the company said, adding that the bottles have now evolved through nine generations.

In an effort to be even more environment-friendly, Kirin Beverage also makes the bottle caps from a single lighter material, while the bottle labels are also marginally thinner and lighter.

JR

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