Concerns over the safety of glass in bars and restaurants have increased the popularity of shatterproof polycarbonate drinkware
in bars and establishments across Australia and New Zealand.
Gone are the days of cheap and cheerful plastic glasses being easily recognised; today’s polycarbonate glasses are as good as, if not better, than real glass. Made from the same material as motorbike helmets, bullet-proof glass and riot shields, polycarbonate will not break, chip, crack, split or craze, can be washed and reused, and is ideal for large gatherings where broken glass is a danger.
It will not change the taste of a drink and its better insulation properties ensure drinks stay colder longer.
Being unbreakable means venues don’t have to worry about broken glass in areas like swimming pools, pool bars, buffets and bistros, as a dropped polycarbonate glass will not smash when it hits a hard floor surface, unlike a traditional glass. This saves the bar staff having to waste time clearing up breakages, and also eliminates the health and safety issues surrounding broken glass and its removal.
Polycarbonate is perfect for environments where there are young children or elderly people.
It also allows cocktail makers to perform their juggling tricks in a safe environment.
There is such a large range to choose from, it is wise to use drinkware that complies with Australian Weights and Measures standards. This also reduces bar losses as standard drinks can be poured accurately.
With regulators’ crack-down on establishments where glassings have occurred, glass alternatives are now becoming a requirement to maintain some liquor licences.
In the glass alternatives field, plastics are not all the same, according to BarTuff managing director Tony Ong.
“Many people assume all plastics are the same – acrylic, SAN, melamine and polystyrene products can all be made to look like polycarbonate and most people can’t see or feel the difference,” Mr Ong says. “It is very hard to distinguish between each different plastic. Of all these plastics, polycarbonate is strongest and the only one that won’t crack and break into sharp pieces, and hence is often referred to as unbreakable.”
Polycarbonate has evolved a long way since the fragile picnic stems of yesteryear. Today the comprehensive range includes standard tall and short tumblers, beer glasses, wine stems, champagne flutes and cocktail glasses (martini, margarita, hurricane).
“We even now have heavy nucleated beer glasses that look and feel like the real thing,” Mr Ong says. “We are driving innovation in the industry, bringing out practical designs and a wider range of options. Recently we’ve introduced what we believe is Australia’s first unbreakable plastic wine decanter.
“We have developed a very comprehensive range of products. All our products are well-thought-out to ensure our designs, styles and capacities are practical and well-suited to our customers’ venues. In general, polycarbonate is more expensive than glass because the raw material resin is more expensive than glass, which is basically sand.
“So, to make our drinkware heavy and glasslike we need to use more material, which increases the cost. Our designs find the right balance between weight and cost to produce end products with unrivalled value for money.”
With such a wide range of polycarbonate drinkware available, plus the occupational health and safety issues that need to be considered, bar owners are moving to polycarbonate.
Although it will be more expensive initially, they will last longer and therefore will not need replacing as often as traditional glasses.