TORONTO, July 15, 2010 /Canada NewsWire/ - You wouldn't know it unless you looked closely, but between one-quarter and one-third of all liquor is now sold in plastic bottles in Canada.
Go ahead, have a look around the store. You may have to actually touch the bottles to tell whether they're plastic or glass. At first glance, PET (polyethylene terephthalate) appears remarkably similar to glass.
But beyond appearances, plastic bottles are distinctly different - they weigh about 30 per cent less than glass when filled, are shatterproof, and come with a re-sealable cap. The lighter-weight plastic bottles result in transportation fuel savings, meaning reduced greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Industry representatives say consumers have responded well to PET because the bottles are unbreakable and easier to carry, making them great for cottages, parties and outdoor events. And consumers also appreciate the environmental benefits.
"Plastic liquor bottles are a convenient choice that our customers feel good about using," says Howard Kirke, Vice President of External Affairs at Corby Distilleries Limited. Corby now offers some of its more popular brands in PET, including Polar Ice Vodka, Lamb's Rum, and Wiser's Special Blend Canadian Whisky.
Plastic liquor bottles were first introduced in Canada about a decade ago, but only in the last few years have they really started to gain significant shelf space.
According to the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, for example, almost 50 per cent of Smirnoff Vodka in 750 ml bottles now sells in plastic rather than glass. For Captain Morgan White in 750 ml bottles, plastic now accounts for about 40 per cent of sales even though the PET version was only recently introduced.
PET bottles are completely recyclable. In Toronto, for example, residents can recycle them in their blue bins or return them to Beer Stores for a deposit refund. In Halifax, residents take their empty plastic bottles to an ENVIRO-Depot where they receive deposit refunds
As well, plastic bottles require less energy to produce. David Clark, Director of Sustainability for plastic bottle manufacturer Amcor Rigid Plastics, notes that switching from glass to PET reduced the carbon footprint of one line of bottles by 22 per cent.
For retailers, plastic liquor bottles have another advantage - dramatically lower breakage rates. It has been estimated that plastic containers reduce waste by more than 90 per cent.
Dave Birkby, President & CEO of Westbridge PET Containers in Calgary, one of the major manufacturers of plastic liquor bottles, notes that while glass still dominates, plastic is gaining in popularity. "Consumers today are environmentally conscious, and if they can make a difference through their purchase decisions, they will," he says.
So next time you're at the liquor store, see if your favourite brand comes in plastic.
"Here's to yet another example of what plastics innovation can achieve," says Mark Badger, President and CEO of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA). "Today's intelligent plastics enhance our lifestyles and benefit the environment."