Drinks group Diageo is launching what it says is the world’s first paper-based, plastic-free spirits bottle in collaboration with Pulpex. The company will roll out a first paper bottle for Johnnie Walker early next year.
Diageo is bringing the paper bottle to market via Pulpex Limited, a sustainable packaging technology company that is the fruit of a partnership between the spirits player and venture capital company Pilot Lite. Pulpex, based in the UK, claims to have developed “the first truly renewable, recyclable and biodegradable packaging that is scalable.” Made of sustainably sourced wood pulp and food-grade compliant, the bottle is recyclable in standard waste streams.
The molded pulp bottles are cured in microwave ovens and sprayed internally with specialized coatings that create a barrier with the paper. No plastic lining is used, meaning that unlike competitor bottles, these will be 100% PET free.
The paper bottle’s carbon footprint is said to be 90% lower than glass and 30% lower than PET. Pulpex has stated that in time, its technology will be a cheaper option than most glass bottles.
Pulpex’s patented technology is not just limited to spirits; its research team is working on options for hot-fill products and carbonated drinks. Indeed, Unilever and PepsiCo, which have joined a partner consortium of companies in non-competing FMCG categories, expect to launch their own paper bottles using Pulpex’s design and technology next year. Additional partner companies are coming onboard later this year.
Brands opting for the technology—which can plug into packaging manufacturers’ filling processes—are not limited to a standard bottle form and can adapt existing designs to the Pulpex paper format. Decoration options include sustainable colored pigments, embossing and debossing, labeling and direct printing.