Plastic Cups and Angry Basketball Fans: At Least It Wasn't a Beer Bottle!




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Indiana Pacers forward Ron Artest may be unhappy over his yearlong suspension from the National Basketball Association for fighting with Detroit fans (a ban that will cost him $5 million in salary). But he can be grateful for one thing: at least it wasn't a beer bottle that plunked him on the head.

As recently as a few years ago, Artest may not have been as “fortunate.”

After incidents of fans throwing partially filled plastic beer and soda bottles onto the playing field at National Football League games, many sports teams switched back to plastic cups.

In addition to possibly saving Artest from serious injury, the switch to plastic cups was good for fans since beverages in plastic bottles have short shelf lives, according to packaging expert Karen Proctor, a professor at Rochester Institute of Technology.

“Compared with beverages from taps or in glass bottles and cans, those in plastic bottles lose their fizz much quicker,” says Proctor, who is also chairperson of RIT's packaging science program, one of only six in the nation.

A downside to plastic cups: longer concession lines, since it takes longer to fill a cup than to hand over a bottle (a reason many vendors switched to plastic bottles in the first place).

The only constant, it seems, is belligerent fans.

To speak with Karen Proctor about packaging trends, including the switch from plastic bottles to plastic cups, contact Michael Saffran, associate director of RIT University News Services, at 585-475-5697 or mjsuns@rit.edu.