Defending Miller's plastic beer bottle

Ever since Miller Brewing announced a major test of plastic beer bottles, the Milwaukee-based brewer has been roundly criticized by environmental groups.

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Next month, the opposing view will get a full airing.

Ralph Armstrong, director of marketing for Owens-Illinois' Continental PET Technologies (Florence, KY) will respond as part of the Take it Back! '99 Conference, May 13-14 at the Holiday Inn Old Town, Alexandria, VA. Not only have environmentalists decried the use of amber-tinted bottles and aluminum caps with retained rings, but the city of Los Angeles passed an ordinance that will require Miller to pay for bottle take-back or use recycled content. Made by Continental, the plastic bottle is said to be a combination of polyethylene terephthalate with an oxygen-scavenging material, believed to be a high-barrier nylon (see PW, March '99, p. 4 or packworld.com/go/beer).

Armstrong will explain that Continental plans to buy back the amber-tinted Miller bottles at a 50% price premium to help jump-start the recycling process. Meanwhile, PPG Industries (Pittsburgh, PA) claims its Bairocade(TM) barrier coating could be the carrier for the amber tint that would wash off in the recycling process.

In addition, the brewer has plans to incorporate up to 40% post-consumer recycled content when and if the plastic bottles go from test to full production. While Miller takes the heat on this issue, Anheuser-Busch, St. Louis, is reportedly testing a three-layer amber beer bottle with an oxygen scavenger layer.

More information about Take it Back! is available from Raymond Communications, publisher of Recycling Laws International, which co-sponsors the conference with E-Tech Products (Denver, CO). Other speakers will discuss the Dutch Packaging Covenant II, as well as other European, Latin American and Asian initiatives.

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