A global economic downturn and soaring raw materials costs have forced beverage companies to reduce the amount of material used in their packaging, a new report says.

Packaging innovation has become increasingly driven by cost, with a trend towards lighter weight packaging in evidence across all sectors, Canadean, the global beverage market consultancy group, said yesterday (23 October).

Its comments form the main finding in the group's Innovation in Beverage Packaging 2008 report.

It said the economic slowdown, coupled with soaring cost rises, had forced firms to address sustainability issues in packaging by reducing the amount of material used.

"In glass bottles, for example, the development of narrow neck and blow technology is bringing both pack and distribution costs down with 20% pack weight savings."

It added that a focus on lightweighting also existed in PET and closures, while some companies have sought to reduce label sizes.

In the UK, several beverage companies, including Coca-Cola Enterprises, have been working with the Waste & Resources Action Programme for the last couple of years to reduce packaging weight.