Sample Research Paper on Research into Drink Containers

Introduction

The world has grown into an era in which many are aware of environmental issues. This has compelled manufacturing companies take the initiative to improve the packaging materials for their products (Pierce, Vesilind and Weiner, 2007, p.201). In order to respond this kind of commercial and social interest, manufacturers have opted for reusable materials. It is important that companies factor in the need to protect the environment while at the same time considering consumer wants in order to build its reputation. Consumers will find more interest in reusable packaging products that help sustain the environment for future generations. Companies that fail to consider the impact of using poor materials have been associated with failure. Increased awareness in environmental sustainability and the need to use resubale-packaging materials has elicited a lot of debate especially for the soft drinks container industry since they have to consider the types of packaging and its impacts to the environment.

Apart from the impacts the packaging materials have on the environment, other factors must be factored in including the amount of waste collected after use, the weight, amount of energy used in the manufacturing process as well as the delivery of the packaging materials and pollutant materials emitted during the manufacturing process. It is not unusual for a type of packaging to be more attractive than another depending on its suitability. In most cases, a tradeoff query on the materials to use for packaging a product. In the soft drinks container industry, the tradeoff has to factor in the price, weight, transparency, capacity, safety and resistance from any form of tampering (Madu, 2003, p.213).

Containers used in the soft drinks container industry

Most soft drinks companies use plastics to package their products. Plastic is often a preferred material because of its light and transparent characteristics. Plastics are transparent and this makes it easier for a consumer to identify the color of the product. Companies that produce colored drinks prefer plastic packaging materials. The most commonly used type of plastics include the PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) and BPA ( bisphenol-A).

During tough times in packaging, polyethylene terephthalate and bisphenol-A are best suited. They are available in varied qualities, and thus manufacturers and consumers can easily choose the products in the plastics depending on the quality and preferences. They are not only easy to mould to different shapes, sizes, but also convenient. Plastics are strong and resistant to tampering, hence making it easier to handle, besides protecting the drink from tampering.

Some companies in the soft drinks container industry use aluminum for the purposes of packaging and storage of products. A common aluminum product is a can, which is light, portable and can safely be handled by children. Cans are mostly used to package sodas and juices and hence accounts for most of the packaging in the soft drinks industry. Cans are easily recycled and are hence making them a preferred packaging material. They can easily be disposed of together with other household wasters after consumption. These containers are collected and separated from other wastes. Scrap dealers may resell some of the cans back to soft drink industry to be used for the same purpose of packaging sodas and juinces, while the rest are recycled into sheets. Others are turned into Diecasts, which are sold to the automotive industry. Aluminium emits pollutants that are easy to reduce their toxicity levels. From the Aluminum Association in 1972, it has a 68% ease of source reduction and thus it is suitable for use.

Other containers used for packaging and storing soft drinks are glass containers. The most important characteristic of glass containers in the soft drinks container industry is that, it is the only material that is easy to recycle and still maintain 100% purity (Ranken, Kill and Baker, 2007, p.158). This feature makes glass unique. Raw materials used to make glass containers are cheap and easy to obtain unlike aluminium, which has to be mined. Glass is a safe material because it does not contain any metal, thus making it safe for  preservation of soft drinks. It is also transparent and convenient. Though a bit heavy, glass is suitable for the packaging of highly valued soft drinks because of its low energy consumption costs in the process of manufacturing and packaging.Analysis of the different types of container material employed for containing soft drinks

Aluminium cans are made from aluminium, which is easy to mould to different shapes. After extraction from the ore, aluminum is ground into small particles, which are later washed with water and dried to ensure that all dust is removed. They are then subjected to a high temperature machine of about 534 0 C at a pressure of 600 Amperes to melt the particles (Silverman, 2008, p.156). The melted semi-liquid substance is cooled and  moulded into 30ml cans at 1020 C. After packaging the drinks, the cans are sealed in a conveyor belt using a sealing machine (Mitchell, 2000, p.130). Aluminium cans are highly recyclable due to their multipurpose use. The cans can be recycled and sold to automotive industries and others used back in the soft drinks container industry. The cans are however very harmful to the environment if the disposed cans are not handled well. They are not degradable and hence should not be burned. This therefore means that companies using aluminum products for packaging must look for alternative packaging materials that do not harm the environment.

After recycling, cans do not maintain their initial purity, and this can discourage consumers from purchasing canned products. Companies using cans, as storage materials should consider performing consumer analysis in order to improve packaging and storage procedures.

Glass bottles on the other hand are obtained from cullet and soda ash. They are mixed after purification and subjected to a 690 0 C and 700 Amperes machine. Cooling is done and 30 ml glass bottles made. These materials are easy to obtain and are free from metal and this makes them safe for storage. Glass is highly recyclable and maintains its purity, thus highly recommended for storage of soft drinks. Plastic is made from polythene and it is extracted after compressing the material, by heating it to 900 o C at a pressure of 1100 Amperes. Plastic is then cooled and molded into 30 ml bottles. However, plastic is highly recyclable though although PET loses its purity at a high level. Recycled  PET is not highly recommended for use because the drinks can easily be contaminated by the packaging material. For instance in the United States, the number of containers recycled depending on factors mentioned earlier for two years; 2009 and 2010 is as follows (Morgan, 2009, p.179):

 Type
Units
Recycled*

 

2009 2010
Aluminum Cans 48.9 56.8
Glass Bottles 0.9 0.4
PET Bottles 7.6 6.4
Optimum shape and dimensions of the containers

To reduce the amount of material used in making 30ml containers, companies in the soft drinks container industry use round like aluminum cans that resemble bottles. One of the factors considered in the choice of dimensions and shape of holding containers is the stability of the container. Cans, which are usually of uniform dimensions and cylindrical in nature are used for lower volumes of drinks due to the lower centre of gravity associated with the short form of the cans. Consequently, they have a higher stability at low heights. It is not easy to shape aluminium into bottles due to its high rigidity and thus these cans have been preferred. In addition, the use of makes make distribution a lot easier because they are packed in crates and containers with moderate sizes that cans can fit. Glass is moulded into bottles for easy portability due to its heavy weight. This makes it easy to distribute the stored soft drinks because the bottles are small (Steen, 2007, p. 211). Plastic is light and can take any shape provided the capacity is maintained. Different shapes are used to make containers for distribution. However, to reduce the amount of material used, companied have opted to use plastic bottles since they are simple to make unlike other shapes.

In shape optimization, bottles are often produced with a conical shape in order to attain the stability as well as to reduce the amount of material used (Arthur & Tarver, 2007). The design process results in the production of containers with additional volumes to cater for expansions in the soft drinks. The use of uniform dimensions may result in the consumption of extra material for this extra volume. Thus, it is more economical to reduce the dimensions for the extra volume in order to achieve design targets without the use of excessive materials. In addition to this, this tapering shape also aids in increasing stability, particularly in containers of significant height such as bottles. Reduction in the top dimensions results in a lower center of gravity and hence resulting into higher stability (Arthur & Tarver, 2007).

 Environmental and commercial constraints

Aluminum is mined and used to make cans and hence increases the cost of production for companies that store drinks using cans as compared to companies that use other alternatives. In addition, aluminum is obtained from its ore, which could also be a problem to find. It pollutes the surrounding during mining ( Guyer, 2008, p.189).

Glass bottles are also a source of pollution to the environment during the mining process to obtain the materials to make them, such as soda ash. During manufacturing, glass bottles emit excess noise and gases that are toxic. Mining increases the companies’ costs. Nevertheless, they do not lose their purity after recycling. Plastic bottles are pollutants to the environment. They are obtained from polythene, which is relatively cheaper than other container materials (Barron, 2009, p.167). However, they are not recommended for reuse after recycling them due to contamination from the content.

References

ARTHUR, M., & TARVER, T. (2007). Food Packaging – Roles, Materials and Environmental Issues. Journal of Food Science. 72, (3): 39-55. doi:10.1111/j.1750-3841.2007.00301.x.

RANKEN, M. D., KILL, R. C., & BAKER, C. (1997). Food industries manual. London, Blackie Academic & Professional.

MITCHELL, A. J. (1990). Formulation and production of carbonated soft drinks. Glasgow, Blackie.

BARRON, W. F. (2009). Fundamentals of economics for environmental managers. [S.l.], Information Age Pub Inc.

STEEN, D. P., & ASHURST, P. R. (2006). Carbonated soft drinks: formulation and manufacture. Oxford, Blackwell Pub.

MADU, C. N. (2003). Competing on quality and environment. Fairfield, CT, Chi Publishers.

PEIRCE, J. J., WEINER, R. F., VESILIND, P. A., & VESILIND, P. A. (1998). Environmental pollution and control. Boston, Mass, Butterworth-Heinemann

GUYER, H. H. (1998). Industrial processes and waste stream management. New York, Wiley. SILVERMAN, B. (2008). Recycling: reducing waste. Chicago, Ill, Heinemann Library. MORGAN, S. (2009). Waste, recycling and reuse. London, Evan