They said it couldn’t be done. But Pretium Packaging proved them wrong, launching the first PET container with integrated handle in summer 2017. And now, at The Packaging Conference—an event with the reputation of debuting new technologies—Pretium has added another size, a 2-L version, to its existing 64-oz SureHandle™ PET container platform.
At the event, held Feb. 5-7 in Orlando, Pretium President & CEO Paul Kayser spoke on the genesis of the handled container, which uses technology from Practically Impossible Labs. Pretium is one of the largest custom blow molders in the country. Said Kayser, “We to anticipate market needs and look for technology platforms to be able to deliver market solutions.”
He added that Pretium is especially interested in creating disruptive technologies. To be disruptive, he said, a technology must achieve certain objectives. Among them:
- Able to go in the recycling stream
- User friendly
- Customizable to meet brand goals and market demands
“I believe we have achieved all of this with SureHandle,” said Kayser.
There have been a variety of attempts over the years to develop handled PET containers, but most have fallen short of the mark. SureHandle technology creates new possibilities for many products—including beverages, foods, and household and industrial chemicals—that could benefit from a monolayer container with an ergonomic handle.
The container combines preform technology developed by PI Labs along with Pretium’s injection and blow-molding manufacturing expertise. The capability begins with the preform, which is structurally different than the traditional straight-sided, injection-molded preforms used to blow mold PET containers. This preform features an injection-molded handle attached to the sidewall.
“One of the inherent benefits of the container is strength,” said Kayser. “The handle almost acts as a flying buttress. It provides tremendous compression strength. We believe we can shrink-wrap bottles in tray packs and stack them up to five pallets high. This provides a lot of logistics benefits.”
In a press release from PI Labs issued immediately following Kayser’s presentation, company President Bill Duelge reiterated the importance of the SureHandle’s compression strength. “The challenge to eliminate single-use corrugated in the retail channel is upon us. PET containers are an obvious answer to that challenge, but the incorporation of an ergonomic handle with improved durability and transport packaging elimination create exciting new opportunities for everyone involved,” he said.
The SureHandle is currently available in monolayer PET only, but Pretium has partnered with several vendors/suppliers who can provide additives such as UV inhibitors and oxygen scavengers to address barrier needs. Unlike two-piece handled containers, which typically are made from more than one material, the integrated PET handle/body combination is made solely from PET, which facilitates recycling. Monomaterial structure means that the bottle does not have the potential to contaminate the PET recycling stream.
The new 2-L stock container size introduced at the conference is three-quarters of an inch taller than its 64-oz counterpart. Brand owners in several food categories, including edible oil and honey, have shown interest in this new size. Olive oil, for example, is typically filled in countries using the metric system. The 2-L also is ideal for honey containers used in foodservice and other institutional environments. Other product possibilities include cold-pressed juices, ready-to-drink teas, sport drinks, nutritional supplements, dressings, sauces, marinades, etc.
Recently, the SureHandle container also received validation by The Packaging School at the Rochester Institute of Technology that it can be used for high-pressure processing (HPP) food and beverage applications. Because HPP does not rely on heat for pasteurization, this validation opens the door for products that are using this relatively new cold processing pasteurization to go to market in an equally new, disruptive container that will protect their nutritional and flavor profile. An additional benefit is that the cold processing enables the use of less-expensive, linerless plug seal-style closures.
SureHandle containers create multiple marketing opportunities for brand owners seeking to appeal to a wider audience. The container is easier to handle for both younger children and older adults, and those with physical challenges, compared to pinch-grip or straight-sided alternatives. The handle not only provides carrying advantages, but also improved pouring control. It has been engineered for products needing fill temperatures up to 120°F and can accommodate an induction seal or foam liner.
As to when the first commercial application will be launched, Kayser noted that several customers are currently running it through their validation system. In the meantime, Pretium will continue to work with PI Labs to develop the next generation of handles. Said Kayser, “We believe handles can be adjusted, but we have some development work to do on that.”
Read all about the event at "The Packaging Conference answers, 'What's New?'"