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It's time to drink beer in plastic bottles?

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To date, drinking beer in a plastic bottle was not a real possibility and even did not seem an attractive option for many, but the beer industry seems to be able to change this. The renowned Japanese beer brand Kirin will be responsible for changing the way beer is packaged and consumed worldwide.

The company Mitsubishi Plastics has announced that it agreed with Japanese beer brand Kirin to deliver bottles in 1 litre format. A spokesperson for the company unveiled to The Wall Street Journal that this bottle format will also be available to craft beer producers, which could boost its growth and generate more consumer choice in the near future.

Experiments with plastic bottles have been previously made in the beer industry, but despite their benefits, they also pose risks to taste. In Japan, plastic bottles have been used since 2010 in wine, but will be the first time a global brewing company will use them for the bottling process worldwide.

Plastic bottles can end up giving problems retaining the beer gas, and for this reason the use of aluminium and glass has been given continuity. 3 years ago Heineken complied with the guidelines of the Organizing Committee for the 2012 London Summer Olympics, which demanded the most sustainable product use as possible, and started selling a special edition of beers bottled in polyethylene terephthalate. The bottle was 330 millilitres and replicated the design and colour of the company's traditional bottle.

According to the sustainability report of the Dutch company, about 1.6 million PET bottles of Heineken beer PET bottles, which were later recycled for the production of polyester fibres.

Plastic bottles are lighter and more durable than the glass ones, but plastic does not prevent gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide to permeate and this affects the taste of beer.

Additionally, if the temperature increases, so will the antimony, which can irritate the eyes and lungs and cause respiratory, heart and stomach problems.

The other real reason why plastic has not been consolidated so far is the colour of the bottles. Beer requires to be bottled in containers of opaque colours that prevent sunlight affecting the composition of the beverage, and the PET bottle amber colour, combined with the additional layers needed to protect the drink, may make more complicated the recycling process compared to transparent bottles used by other beverages.

To address this, the bottle Kirin will launch will have a special coating in order to protect the contents from the effects of the environment. The first shipments will be distributed in sealed packages to avoid effects of the environment during the distribution process.

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*Image: Alexander Bolotnov (flickr)

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