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Article | December 3, 2008
What if...a collapsing bottle could maintain carbonation in soft drinks?
One of the greatest drawbacks in buying large volumes of soda is that the carbonation level of the product changes throughout the lifespan of the product. !”
A 2-L bottle of sparkling soda quickly becomes a mediocre 1-L of flat, unappetizing syrupy water that is destined for pouring down the kitchen sink.
Conventional thought is that the opening and closing of the package causes the soda to go flat. While this is a contributing factor, the main problem lies in the volume of headspace that is created in the package as the product is consumed. Carbon dioxide quickly migrates to the vacant space, causing the beverage to lose its sparkle.
Ideally, the package should reduce in size as the product is consumed to minimize vacant space inside the bottle. However, the high pressures that carbonated soft drinks reach have made this unfeasible—until now.
Robert Croft, managing partner at Swerve Inc.-Design for Brands (www.swerveinc.com), proposes in Shelf Impact! a “what-if” package-design idea for a PET component (depicted in the accompanying illustration) that fits inside the finish of the bottle, and it works with tension to maintain the height of the bottle under pressure. The “stem” acts like a bicycle spoke, telescoping with light downward pressure to reduce the height of the package as the product is consumed.
One-way clicks in the stem prevent the bottle from growing in height as pressure builds inside the package (up to 60 psi on a sunny day). Thus, a 2-L bottle may collapse proportionally down to 1 L, and the package will always maintain a constant, minimum headspace.
Although some carbonation is lost as the product is served, the quality of the beverage will be much more consistent. In addition, the minimal nature of the PET component inside the bottle does not significantly affect either package recyclability or cost of goods. If this idea for a CSD bottle goes into production, the very nature of marketing 2-L (or even 3-L) carbonated beverages will be redefined. Consumers would have more reason to raise their glasses and say, “Cheers
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