The development of a new type of outer packaging for bottled beer, designed for the take home trade in Canada and the USA where conventional European style crates are considered insufficiently attractive in their appearance and the cartons currently used are increasingly being criticized for the volume of waste cardboard thereby generated, is described. The new container is an injection moulded plastic box, manufactured by a special weight saving gas assisted moulding technique, which holds 24 bottles and is designed to be reused some 50 times and then recycled, with a corrugated cardboard lid which is removed and recycled after each trip. The box is of a neutral colour, such as grey, in order to avoid clashing with the colourful designs on the lid and any labels which may be applied, so that a common pool of such boxes can be used by all the breweries in a region. When consumer reactions were tested in Toronto, Canada, it proved highly acceptable despite the fact that a deposit (repayable on returning the box) was levied in addition to the price of the beer. In addition to the environmental advantage of using a refillable form of packaging in place of a single trip carton, the new plastic box is expected to prove to be cheaper in the long term due to the rising cost of cardboard and the fact that the lids are generally fairly clean and more or less intact when sent for recycling (which is often not the case with used cartons) and thus can be sold back to the paper mills at a worthwhile price. Many consumers are also reported to find the box more convenient because it is stronger than a carton and unaffected by damp conditions (under which cartons tend to disintegrate).
Keywords : container design multipack plastic