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Are glass manufacturers feeling the pinch?

By Jenny Eagle+

23-Apr-2014
Last updated on 23-Apr-2014 at 15:46 GMT2014-04-23T15:46:04Z

Plastic versus glass
Plastic versus glass

The plastic bottle has been recognised for its flexibility and the easy way consumers can get a product out of a container, controlling the amount dispensed.

According to a poll commissioned by the British Plastics Federation's Packaging Group (BPF) 77% of people would rather squeeze their tomato ketchup out of a plastic container than shake it out of a glass bottle

Top-down design

Not only does plastics packaging address society's sustainability goals, it gets the basic job done extraordinarily well - protecting the product and helping the consumer to use it easily,” said Philip Law, director general designate, BPF.

The research, carried out by YouGov surveyed 2,157 UK respondents and found in the battle of the sexes, more women (79%) than men (74%) prefer to squeeze their tomato ketchup out of a plastic bottle.

The nature of the design of the bottle also came out top with a top-down design making it easier for consumers to get more of the product out and to not leave any in the container when finished. 

When asked to rank products in terms of their safety, convenience, versatility, innovativeness and openability, plastic containers (plastic beans container, plastic shower bottles, plastic margarine tubs and plastic water bottles) collectively gained 70% plus votes by respondents.

Consumers were also asked to rank a glass bottle, a plastic bottle, a cardboard carton and a metal can in terms of their practicality and safety across all areas in the household. In the kitchen, bathroom, shower cubicle, bedroom and nursery, plastic bottles were ranked as the most safe and most practical 100% of the time. 

British Glass

Rebecca Cocking, head of container affairs, British Glass, told FoodProductionDaily, the results of the study are interesting, as they 'differ considerably from our own experiences and research at British Glass'. 

"A survey conducted at a recent BBC Good Food Show showed when consumers were asked what their favourite product was in glass, Ketchup was ranked in the top 10 favourites out of nearly 2,000 visitors questioned," she said. 

"Many of the consumers surveyed also anecdotally stated they were frustrated they were unable to get all the ketchup out of the plastic containers. 

"We strongly support offering consumers a continued choice of packaging for their favourite food and drink products, but when it comes to questions of health, taste and recyclability, research shows glass consistently is the people's favourite."

One advocate of the plastic bottle is LiquiGlide, which won the Invention of the Year 2012 Award for its wet slippery coating used in packaging.

The company was created by Dave Smith and Kripa Varanasi, after LiquiGlide won the audience choice at the MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) $100K Entrepreneurship Competition and won the Mass Challenge competition two years’ ago.

Frugal consumers?

It is working on its first commercialized coatings for processing applications and partnering with various consumer brands to hit shelves in 2015.

This research confirms that consumers are very serious about getting every last drop of the products they pay for – whether they’re just being frugal or whether they have environmental impact in mind,” said Carsten Boers, president, LiquiGlide.

Plastic packaging is one step toward a better consumer experience, but plastic packaging alone doesn’t allow them to get all of a product. Because up to 25% remains trapped in the package for some products, consumers end up wasting too much of what they paid for. This is the fundamental driver behind LiquiGlide. Our goal is to enable the complete evacuation of food products with a coating made entirely from food.”

Jeff Wooster, global sustainability leader, Dow Performance Packaging said it understands the value of plastic packaging and the survey results reinforce its many benefits.

"In addition to providing consumers with convenience and protection, we believe plastic packaging is a key player in the campaign against food waste. By using plastic packaging, more food can be successfully passed to consumers, products can stand on store shelves for an extended period of time and food stays fresher longer,” he said.

The full results of the YouGov survey will be launched at the BPF’s ‘Plastics in Packaging’ seminar , which will take place at the BPF’s offices on June 12. 

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