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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

From Pepsi, plastic, please

Pepsi-Cola International will introduce plastic soft drink bottles to consumers in the former Soviet Union this fall.

A new Belarussian-American joint venture, BelPak, plans to produce up to 500 million of the disposable two-liter PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles annually in Mogilev, Belarus.

Pepsi will be the first soft drink company to switch to plastic bottles in the former Soviet Union. The new technology is being introduced partly to avoid chronic problems the company has encountered with glass bottles, said Christopher Sinclair, president of Pepsi-Cola International.

Currently, soft drinks in this market, including Pepsi, Fiesta, Coca-Cola and Fanta, are sold in glass bottles, of which there is a chronic shortage, a vestige of the Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign in the mid 1980s. Pepsi hit the Soviet market in 1972. Diet Pepsi was introduced last year.

BelPak is a joint venture between Pepsi-Cola International; Eastman Chemical Company; Khimvolokhno, the largest chemical producer in Belarus with 25, 000 employees and MPOST, a manufacturer of synthetic textiles. Each of the American partners has a 25 percent share in the joint venture.

Neither Pepsi nor Eastman Chemical officials would reveal initial investment in the new joint venture, saying only that they expect revenue of about $100 million over five years. The joint venture plans to export about half its production to Europe for hard currency.