All beverages are conveyed to the consumer by some size, design and type of container with a variety of closures that appeal to the potential buyer. Still, hidden behind the innocent package is a myriad of manufacturing and sales factors that determine the issues of size, type and material of those containers.  

The transition of containers from a relatively standard size, type, material configuration scenario to the current broad spectrum of all these issues makes it a significant topic to focus on the practicality of “real” standards from environmentally acceptable and economically feasible viewpoints.


Bottles, cans or cartons are subjected to the size factor primarily by assessment and determination of manufacturing cost and selling price. 

From an operations perspective, the producers interface machinery and materials to provide the least cost for a quality product. In the process of providing the least cost quality product, producers are challenged with the flexibility of packaging line equipment that has the capability of accommodating the numerous size containers either on a dedicated installation or on a multi-purpose layout that has required flexibility. 

The impact of required container flexibility extends from conveying methods to each specific functional machine in the line that could mean modifications or new purchases — both potential additional costs.  

Additionally, the transition from the 6- to 12-ounce container era has witnessed the drive to accept frequent size changes and accelerated the flexibility factor in equipment design. And, the magnitude of many changes in container configurations has validated the “constant change syndrome” (CCS) in practice.  

The size changes in containers have had a relative impact on container closing in whatever configuration has been adopted — plain or threaded finish in 6-ounce to 2-liter and plain or pull-tab lids in 8- to 16-ounce cans.

Closing methods

The major change in container closing started in bottles with the conventional unthreaded finish, requiring a crowning machine, and ended with a threaded finish, requiring a multi-head capper. The other change was in cans where the container was involved with a three-piece can ― bottom and lid ― but technology soon discovered the cost of manufacture was prohibitive.   

Can closing utilizes a multi-head seamer capable of installing lids on cans at high speeds. Seaming lids to cans involved the material used in the can and the lid. Initially, two-piece steel cans were closed with plain top steel lids and the two-piece can could be run at higher speeds. 

Yet, technology again determined aluminum lids could replace steel lids and the change continued because steel cans replaced with aluminum lids and the closing of cans progressed. Plain aluminum lids now replaced by a variety of tab type and the closing still not completed. Twelve-ounce cans were introduced to eight and required a smaller tab type lid. 

The impacts of closing along with containers have far-reaching economic consequences for the future. The bottom line to all container/closing issues raises the question: Would standard size containers and closing methods be practical or feasible, to eliminate the change costs and maintain desired revenue from the cost price view?