Food & Beverage

Polycarbonate Products on the Rise

Polycarbonate drinkware is swiftly taking the accommodation industry by storm.

In just a few short years, more and more hotels and resorts have started to clamour for polycarbonate products and for good reasons. Polycarbonate alternatives to glass provide a financial benefit for properties and a safer environment for guests. But how much product is really out there, enough to replace glass drinkware altogether? Or is this just a temporary change in industry tastes?

There are three main areas of interest for accommodation providers in terms of polycarbonate drinkware; pool bar drinkware, breakfast and bistro drinkware and in-room drinkware.

As far as pool bar drinkware goes, the safety benefits of polycarbonate almost go without saying – unbreakable materials mean never having to worry about broken glass finding its way into the pool area where children and families may be running around barefoot; but it’s expense that is the worry, as there are many cheap polycarbonate drinkware ranges on the market but often they are low in quality and compromise the customer’s experience.

Robert Winston, managing director of Palm Products and expert in the polycarbonate drinkware arena, explained, “To be worthwhile, polycarbonate products need to be ‘best-in-class’ and most importantly from an engineer’s point of view, ‘fit-for-purpose’, that is they needed to work in a consumers’ usage environment.

“There are key questions to ask before purchasing. First of all, determine what fit-for-purpose features are important for your intended use and which features will impress your guests most. Outdoor pools are often windy places – so it makes little sense to have tall unstable drinkware – ideally the drinkware should have a wide base and low centre of gravity.

“What will impress your guests most? Their drinking experience should replicate that which would be had with good quality glassware – a contemporary style, glass-like weight, fine drinking rims, easy to hold shapes. Is the drinkware convenient for your bar-staff? Can the drinkware be stacked? Can it be dish-washed?”

amg37-fb-PC-Crown2Tim Russell from Crown Commercial continued, “Essentially the high quality polycarbonate looks and feels like glass but is just a little lighter, so patrons don’t feel they’re drinking from cheap flimsy plastic”.

Mr Russell’s team has just released straight sided Tropic tumblers and flared Sunset tumblers that have a premium look and feel, with a weighted base for extra stability, offered in DOF and highball, for ideal pool-side use, and stackable tumblers.

Mr Russell later reiterated that there is huge benefit to asking these questions when they allow you to seek out quality. “Each item in the complete collection is manufactured using a high grade unbreakable polycarbonate that will not chip, crack or craze. The long-life, food grade material is BPA free, stain and odour resistant, reusable, 100% recyclable, OH&S compliant and dishwasher safe.”

These are the kinds of things purchasers need to make sure products have before they invest in them.

Likewise, Palm Product’s unbreakable poolside, boating and camping ranges have been designed for premium outdoor use. All have the same low centre of gravity and contemporary designs and have glass-like weight, fine smooth glass-like drinking rims, and the wine and tumblers are stackable. The stackable feature also reduces transport costs and makes export feasible.

These ranges also have the added benefit of a soft-feel non-slip base that assists stability on uneven or wet surfaces and the camping range, in addition, has a glow-in-the-dark base – which is relevant in the evening or in low light situations – as well as having novelty value – particularly for cocktails.

Mr Winston revealed, that “the big idea behind these types of quality ranges is that they do not merely replace glass but are designed to fulfill a consumer’s need by solving usage problems – particularly in boating and camping situations – whilst looking good.”

Once quality products have been pinpointed, Mr Russell insisted the polycarbonate route is much cheaper than its glass counterpart; as long as you’re investing in quality, you’re investment is wise. “Polycarbonate drinkware not only reduces replacement costs; its shatter-free guarantee means it pays for itself over and over again.”

And it’s not just glassware that is getting the ‘polycarbonate treatment’ these days, dinnerware, too, is becoming more and more popular. “The polycarbonate cereal/soup bowl, rimmed bowl, side plate and dinner plate are unrecognisable for their china cousins in look but are very light, which suits outdoor use, where guests may be standing or eating while reclining with a plate on their lap. The ergonomic design of the cereal bowl has made it widely popular with both child care and aged care facilities as well as with resort properties.”

Similarly, when it comes to breakfast and bistro drinkware, the key is in knowing what you’re after and being prepared to investigate your options. “Once again, it is important to define the fit-for-purpose features that are important; for instance, how formal is the drinking experience you have in mind? As breakfast is less formal, convenience and ease of use are paramount – so, for example, the Palm Boating DOF has a soft, non-slip base, perfect for hard services and a wide, heavy base to resist spilling. Its contemporary shape, glass-like weight and fine drinking rims give the customer a premium high quality experience. When the budget is important, the party tumblers with their contemporary shape, ease of use and stackability are both satisfying for the customer and convenient and economical for the operator,” Mr Winston elaborated.

A greater variety of polycarbonate drinkware products are becoming available to meet demand from not just accommodation providers and guests but the Australian government as well. The advent of glassings and glass related violence has pushed the government to take steps toward eliminating risk in as many venues as possible. Polycarbonate drinkware is an excellent way for them to do this, as Mr Winston intimated, “Polycarbonate drinking glasses will not shatter or break like glass or toughened glass. Plus for example, the Palm Party range pricing is comparable so when their longer life and lower costs of safety and cleanup are considered, they are a more economical alternative. They are also an ideal size for in-room use in the bathroom as a replacement for toughened glass which can shatter if dropped or explode through heat shock. Similarly, the wine, Champagne and tumblers are ideal replacements for glass in the mini-bar as customers will appreciate the contemporary shapes and the elimination of the possibility of glassings.

Crown Commercial’s popular unbreakable polycarbonate drinkware collection has also been extended with elegant stemware, cocktail styles and tumblers now available, embraced by the hospitality industry for the innate ability to reduce replacement costs, OH&S value and of course meet legislated requirements in some areas. Attractive new Venezia polycarbonate stemware is available in red wine, white wine and champagne flute styles. Each with a long stem and generous bowl, they still fit easily into the dishwasher.

amg37-fb-PC-Crown6The main concern for accommodation providers, though, will undoubtedly be saving outgoings; creating the safer environment described above while also cutting costs. “The main financial benefit of polycarbonate drinkware in comparison to glass is that, being unbreakable, they will last longer and avoid costs associated with glass breakage and possible personal injury to staff and customers,” Mr Winston established.

Another huge benefit for accommodation providers is the opportunity to create a ‘brand’. According to Mr Winston, “Palm has two in-house colour printing facilities so logos and filling levels can be added economically, to give that all important final touch of quality personalisation.”

This final touch will go a long way in terms of impressing guests, who, research has shown, will always be quicker to return to a ‘trusted brand’ than a different hotel.

Meanwhile, Crown Commercial has come up with various innovations to their polycarbonate range in order to promote the best possible resort image to your guests, helping create the allure of that all important ‘brand’ quality. Their ingeniously, smart designs across the range mean there’s minimal post-dishwasher water pooling in the upturned bases. Furthermore, they offer beer and beverage drinkware in Empire and Conical styles with nucleated bases, so as to keep the beer head looking fresh for longer. Also, for the first time, Crown Commercial cocktail drinkware is now offered in traditional margarita and martini designs.

The industry has come a long way from polystyrene cups; now there are near enough polycarbonate equivalents for every possible glass drinkware item in a resort and these new products don’t look like they’re going anywhere anytime soon. So, taking into account their cost effective allure and added safety bonus, perhaps it is time Australian accommodation providers jumped on the polycarbonate bandwagon after all.

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