France-based Sidel said its NoBottle weighs in at 9.9 g per 500 ml bottle. The bottle is designed to help meet EU environmental regulations, which require countries to cut down on the amount of material they use for packaging their products. The average weight of a bottle of water of the same capacity is betweeen 13g to 16g, said Sidel. The 25 to 40 per cent reduction in material resulting in less plastic material to be recycled, said Franck Hancard, Sidel's manager of its packaging solutions unit. "The additional tons of waste eliminated by this new, lighter design will be considerable," said Hancard. A new technology, known as Flex, made production of the bottle possible, the company stated in an announcement. Flex technology is based on shaping bottles so they remain flexible and are able to spring back to their original shape if crushed. The Flex technology does away with the need to add ribs to brace bottle walls. Such bottles are brittle and noisy when compressed, which reduces shelf appeal, Sidel claimed. The ribs also limit the possibilities for lightweighting. "These bottles are easy to grip, supple, and substantially less brittle than conventional bottles," Sidel stated. "And, thanks to shape memory, bottles are better able to withstand conveying, packing, transport and handling." Sidel looked at the entire manufacturing process, from blow molding to palletising. The bottled water market is the largest segment of the beverage sector by volume, with 160 billion liters sold in 2006. The segment is expected to expand by 5.7 percent annually between now and 2010, Sidel stated. The number of units sold on the water market is expected to catch up with soft drinks by 2010 due to the growth of small, single-serve containers of less than 750 ml, Sidel stated. Last month Coca-Cola said it would launch a lighter-weight bottle for its major brands in the UK, fulfilling a pledge to reduce the amount of packaging used for its products. The new lightweight 500ml PET bottle will enable the company to reduce the amount of packaging it uses in the UK by about 700 tonnes per year, Coca-Cola stated. The new 24g bottle will replace the current 26g bottle used for brands including 'Coca-Cola', 'diet Coke', 'Coke' Zero, 'Fanta', 'Sprite' and 'Lilt'.