But Coca-Cola in Asia is investing heavily in a technology that uses plasma deposition to apply a nanoscale layer of glass-like silicon oxide to the finished container.
It has even given its own name to the 250ml PET bottle – the Affordable Small Sparkling Package (ASSP).
The technology comes courtesy of German filling equipment specialist KHS, which first applied its Plasmax vapour deposition system over a decade ago to larger PET bottles, principally beer.
Single machine block
Now, it has developed a TriBlock system, which links stretch blow-moulding, coating and filling in a single machine block.
“Plasmax has been around for some time,” explained KHS product manager Arne Wiese. “But now we offer better bonding of the layers, making the bottles more tolerant to flexing.”
While Plasmax is said to provide a gas barrier as effective as glass, it does not – of course – come with the same weight. The ASSP weighs just 10g. For developing-world logistics, this can make a huge difference.
Coca-Cola Hindustan had, by November 2016, installed or ordered three TriBlock lines for India, with another installed in Indonesia.
Looking at new markets
According to Wiese, global growth rates in CSDs had sunk to around 2%, and fillers were looking at new markets, and new formats to reach those markets.
KHS is not alone in attacking the small-bottle, high-barrier PET market. Sidel has repackaged its own plasma deposition system, Actis (amorphous carbon treatment on internal surfaces), blocking blowing, coating and – potentially – filling in a single line concept.
But for Sidel, European markets are most of interest given the renewed emphasis on smaller portion sizes for added-sugar drinks and juices.