Diageo, PepsiCo and Unilever to launch paper bottles

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

The new Johnnie Walker paper bottle. Pic:Diageo
The new Johnnie Walker paper bottle. Pic:Diageo

Related tags: Sustainability, Pepsico, Packaging

Diageo will debut a 100% plastic-free, paper-based spirits bottle for Johnnie Walker in early 2021; while PepsiCo and Unilever plan to follow suit with their own brands

Diageo has created the ‘world first’ bottle made from sustainably sourced pulp which meets food grade standards; and will be fully recyclable in standard waste streams.

The spirits giant has now also launched a new partnership with Pilot Lite, a venture management company, to develop the technology further through Pulpex Limited, a sustainable packaging technology company. And Pulpex has already established a partner consortium with companies including PepsiCo and Unilever: with these companies expecting to launch their own branded paper bottles in 2021.

No plastic inner coating

Johnnie Walker - Diageo - Plastic Free inset

While most glass bottle alternatives still need to use a plastic inner layer to contain the liquid, Diageo’s new technology does not. Instead, the bottles are formed by pressurising pulp into moulds, a curing oven process, and are also sprayed internally with specialised coatings.

This also means that an inner plastic layer and outer pulp layer don’t need to be separated for recycling.

The bottle is made from sustainably sourced pulp to meet food-safe standards and will be recyclable in standard waste streams. The technology will allow brands to create new packaging designs, or even more existing designs into paper.

The technology can be used across a variety of single mould bottles across consumer goods.

Ewan Andrew, Chief Sustainability Officer, Diageo, said: “We’re proud to have created this world first. We are constantly striving to push the boundaries within sustainable packaging and this bottle has the potential to be truly ground-breaking.”

PepsiCo: 'We can bring about big changes on packaging by working together'

PepsiCo plans to take the technology across to the non-alcoholic beverage industry in 2021.

There are a lot of challenges out there [related to sustainability] that all companies are looking to solve, but which no one company can really solve on its own,"​ said Ron Khan, VP of beverage packaging at PepsiCo. "So, the beauty of this consortium is that we can really bring big changes on packaging to the market by working together.

“Clearly, each industry has its own particular product criteria to resolve. So, the challenges around alcoholic beverages are different from non-alcoholic beverages [that PepsiCo must manage], which are different still from home care products [which Unilever will address]. By expanding the consortium and bringing more partners in, we are able to solve those problems and make this a universally wide packaging format​.”

It is still in the early stages of development and has not yet decided which brands will use the new packaging. However, the company sees potential ‘across most of our products’, according to Khan.

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