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Absolut, Coca-Cola, L’Oréal Join Carlsberg’s Efforts to Improve, Scale Paper Bottles

Carlsberg Group has unveiled the latest iterations of the world’s first paper beer bottle made from sustainably sourced wood fibers, along with a new ‘paper bottle community’ of brands dedicated to optimizing the technology.

Today, at the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen, Carlsberg Group unveiled the latest iterations of the world’s first ‘paper’ beer bottle made from sustainably sourced wood fibers, that is both 100 percent bio-based and fully recyclable — and the first paper bottles to contain beer.

Carlsberg also announced the formation of a “paper bottle community,” where it is joined by other leading global companies — including the Absolut Company, The Coca-Cola Company, and L’Oréal — that share the same vision of developing sustainable packaging through the advancement of paper bottle technology.

Two new prototypes 

The two new research prototypes are made from sustainably sourced wood fiber, are fully recyclable and have an inner barrier to allow the bottles to contain beer. One prototype uses a thin recycled PET polymer film barrier, and the other a 100 percent bio-based PEF polymer film barrier. These prototypes will be used to test the barrier technology as Carlsberg seeks a solution to achieve its ultimate ambition of a 100 percent bio-based bottle without polymers.

“We continue to innovate across all our packaging formats, and we are pleased with the progress we’ve made on the Green Fibre Bottle so far,” said Myriam Shingleton, VP of Group Development at Carlsberg Group. “While we are not completely there yet, the two prototypes are an important step towards realizing our ultimate ambition of bringing this breakthrough to market. Innovation takes time and we will continue to collaborate with leading experts in order to overcome remaining technical challenges, just as we did with our plastic-reducing Snap Pack.”

The future of paper bottles

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The concept of a paper bottle is not new — perhaps most famously, California-based sustainable packaging startup Ecologic Brands has been producing plastic-lined paper bottles since 2008, used by winemaker Truett-Hurst and brands such as Seventh Generation. More recently, Ecologic worked with L’Oréal’s Seed Phytonutrients brand of sustainable skin and haircare products to develop the first shower-safe paper bottle, composed of 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper and a post-consumer recycled liner — which is 60 percent less plastic than a typical bottle — and the pump can be recycled through partner TerraCycle.

Carlsberg kicked off its own project to develop a bottle made from sustainably sourced wood fibers in 2015, alongside innovation experts ecoXpac, packaging company Billerudkorsnäs and post-doctoral researchers from the Danish Technical University, supported by Innovation Fund Denmark. These combined efforts have resulted in the emergence of Paboco® (the Paper Bottle Company) — a joint venture between BillerudKorsnäs and bottle manufacturing specialist Alpla — and the corresponding paper bottle community, launched today by Paboco, that unites the participating global companies and experts with the vision of advancing high-quality sustainable packaging.

The paper bottle community

Now, Paboco’s paper bottle community is looking to improve on existing solutions — uniting a group of pioneering partner brands and experts in materials, design and technology, with the goal of achieving a 100 percent biobased and recyclable paper bottle, fully sustainable and optimized for material reuse and circularity, that can harmlessly degrade if accidentally put in nature.

This community will work on generations of the Paper Bottle, building on existing barrier technologies of today to create those of tomorrow. Each participating brand will develop and design their own paper bottle to meet the needs of their category.

“The work with our partners since 2015 on the Green Fibre Bottle illustrates that this kind of innovation can happen when we work together,” Shingleton said. “We’re delighted that other like-minded companies have now joined us as part of Paboco’s paper bottle community. Partnerships such as these, ones that are united by a desire to create sustainable innovations, are the best way to bring about real change.”

Gittan Schiöld, interim CEO of Paboco, said: “It is all about the team! We are collaborating across the value chain, sharing the risks; and are united in our vision that the paper bottle will become a reality and fundamentally change this industry for good.”