When you're next sipping a Bacardi Breezer on a beach in Ibiza or drinking Coca-Cola in Acapulco spare a thought for the humble packaging, the contents of which are bringing you so much delight says Rodney Abbott

You may very well be able to trace your steps back to choosing your destination, saving up and planning your journey to the airport – to travel hundreds of miles to get away from it all.

Isn’t it lucky for you that someone back in Blighty has made sure that the same standard of your favourite beverage, is chilled and awaiting your arrival?

Imagine tracing the steps of that bottle and seeing what it has lived through and indeed what it still has left to experience.

It’s very possible, if it’s Coke, Pepsi-Cola, Gordons Gin, Britvic, Chivas Regal, one of the Barcardi family or Newcastle Brown Ale, that it hails from Rexam’s site in Yorkshire or from one of the nine manufacturing plants across mainland Europe.

Not unnaturally, Rexam’s IT manager Martin Green believes that glass, as a packaging material is unique. “It is used for mass-produced, low margin and for premium, high value products,” he says.

Recently, Rexam Glass Barnsley produced a range of bottles for Waverley Vintners. Each bottle displays design, colour and finishing variations to the standard 750ml Bordeaux bottle.

Waverley has introduced the Dude brand Shiraz to coincide with its existing Babe Chardonnay. Dude has a black colour coating with silver label and white graphics. Babe’s similar design is in pink. The pair are offered exclusively by Sainsbury.

Viva Italia, a one-off product for Sainsbury, is the first time Waverley has utilised a sleeved wine bottle. Rexam produced the bottles for this fruity Italian dry white wine and applied the sleeve, produced by Webtech, which is decorated in the style of the Italian flag.

Where spirits are concerned, H&A Bottlers has won the contract to fill Coors Brewers’ latest product line – Screamers – a range of flavoured vodka shots packaged in 25ml containers with distinctive heat-sealed lids for ease of opening. Aimed at adult drinkers aged 18-30, the shots – which are available in five flavours – are sold as singles in bars and in four-, five- and packs of 10 through most off-trade outlets.

While we are on the subject of vodka, Viscose Closures and William Croxon & Son joined forces to supply a range of sleeved bottles to the Savane Winery in Georgia which has launched Iced Vodka, a Western style premium spirit pack into the Georgian and Russian markets using a four-colour, gravure-printed shrink sleeve. Viewed from one side, the bottle has Georgian script and, from the other, Roman script – effectively two labels in one.

Rockware Glass has produced 275ml bottles for Diageo’s Archers Aqua schnapps ready to drink brand. The bottle incorporates the firm’s red logo and signature translucent frosting and bubble motif. The full-length sleeves, gravure printed in nine colours by Decorative Sleeves, feature a pearlescent ink lacquer. This provides tactile properties to create the surface effect of etched glass.

MeadWestvaco has introduced Forte, a new packaging substrate that offers a high-value alternative to mini-flute board. Forte combines a smooth and bright-coated facing stock with a kraft board to deliver graphic reproduction without the washboard appearance typical of packages made from mini-flute board. Forte also supports embossing, foil stamping and windowing. It is durable enough to meet stack and crush performance standards.

Persuading packer fillers to use PET for beverage bottles is a lot easier than it was, particularly where the material offers almost as much brand impact and particularly now that the material has become so much more user friendly.

Bulmers blow PET bottles on a new BLOMAX 12 Series III from SIG Corpoplast. The company uses PET for its more utilitarian bottles. Preforms are currently being bought in from Amcor and Esteform, with caps coming from Alcoa.

Unlike many producers of long alcoholic drinks in Europe, North America and Japan, Bulmers sees plastics as a medium for large bottle sales only, with premium products still presented in glass and single serve standard products offered in cans.

And yet Mason Pinder’s toolmaking skills were recently put to the test by Bulmers when the cider makers launched into the single-serve flavoured schnapps shots market with the Sidekick chaser.

Bulmers attacked the market by developing a shot capsule, made from Eastman PET 9921W, that clips either onto the edge of a sleeve glass or directly to a bottle.

The mould tool design was developed to cut cycle times, improve reliability and reduce capsule material costs during production build-up by more than 40%. Portola produces caps for the Sidekick in a low linear PP.

Beer drinkers in Germany may soon have more opportunities to purchase beer in PET than any other European country.

Aldi in Germany recently confirmed to Wirtschafts Woche that, due to the new deposit law, it no longer intends to sell beer in cans. This allows the giant discount chain operator to save costs related to the return of cans and win time for the development of a system for returnable packaging.

Instead of cans, Aldi is planning to offer its customers beer in PET bottles, a decision that is indicative of a growing trend in the drinks market.

RPC Containers Blackburn is extending its expertise in PET technology into a new market with the launch of a wine bottle quarter suitable for a range of sectors including the airline industry, on/off trade and corporate giftware.

The 18.75cl size will offer the wide ranging benefits of PET. The green tint matches the look of glass for a quality visual appeal. The bottle is also lightweight and convenient, a particular advantage for the airline industry where weight is a key issue.

Amcor has invested substantially in recent years in developing PET bottles for beer that can compete successfully with any other form of packaging in terms of both product and package performance. While beer can be packed in either standard or barrier PET, Amcor believes that barrier solutions, such as its own AmGuard multi-layer bottles, will be key to PET’s adoption among brewers in Europe.

“We have always been confident that PET is poised to achieve wholesale market penetration for beer packaging,” says Amcor PET Packaging Europe/Asia vice president sales and marketing Phil Gunning.