Diageo debuts paper-based bottle for Baileys

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Diageo creates paper bottles for Baileys, Johnnie Walker

Related tags Diageo Paper paper packaging paper bottle Packaging Johnnie walker Sustainability Recycling

Diageo has launched a trial for a paper-based bottle for Baileys Irish Cream Liqueur; while a Johnnie Walker paper-based bottle is also in development.

Bailey’s paper-based bottle is a Dry Molded Fiber bottle made with 90% paper, with a thin plastic liner and foil seal to contain the liquid. It has been developed in partnership with PA Consulting, as part of the Bottle Collective with PA and PulPac.

The bottle is designed for recycling in standard paper streams and consumers do not need to separate the plastic liner from the paper bottle when disposing.

The 2,000-bottle trial with consumers will be on a Baileys mini-format (80ml) at Time Out Festival in Barcelona, Spain, this weekend.

It marks Diageo’s first consumer facing trial with paper-based bottles and will test how the bottles travel from the filling site in Ireland, to Barcelona. The company will also look at how consumers interact with the material, and how they understand the sustainability credentials of the paper bottle.

Paper bottle development

Ewan Andrew, President, Global Supply Chain & Procurement and Chief Sustainability Officer, Diageo said that paper packaging requires an approach of ‘progress over perfection’: known that packaging will need to evolve along with consumer needs and technological advancements.

“The consumer is becoming more sustainability savvy and we believe we can meet that need using our design and innovation to bring premium products and more sustainable solutions together,” he said.

When it comes to beverages, 68% of consumers want to buy more sustainably but only 12% do​ due to barriers including expense, lack of availability, and confusion about what is on offer.

Diageo, therefore, identifies the need to reduce this ‘say-do’ gap for consumers by developing more sustainable - and desirable products. That also includes marketing propositions to help consumers understand the sustainability credentials of the packs.

To support this, Diageo has developed and rolled out frameworks across the organisation, including an environmental CLAIMS checklist, based on the CMA guidelines, and LCA assessment tools, ensuring that science, substantiation and creativity are used to communicate clearly to consumers.

baileys inset

Dry Molded Fiber tech

The Bottle Collective has focused on creating the world’s first Dry Molded Fiber bottle with the view to release bottles at scale in 2025.

The Dry Molded Fiber technology claims to be the first industrial method that converts renewable plant fibers into sustainable packaging and products.

It uses sustainably grown trees or plant-based fibers – such as grasses, barley or cellulose-based waste streams – as feedstock: processing these into fully recyclable and compostable packaging.

The tech claims 80% lower CO2 emissions compared to plastics and wet molding.​ The dry process reduces water and energy use: leading to a higher sustainability footprint and lower cost.

Furthermore, the collective estimates that – when used at scale – the cost equates to that of plastic.

The tech is also being developed for blister packs for pills and supplements.

Jamie Stone, Design and Innovation Expert at PA, said: “Dry molded fiber bottles are a huge step forward, setting new standards in the world of more sustainable packaging. But this [Diageo Baileys minis] is only the beginning.

"PulPac’s dry molded fiber technology has immense potential: not only is it water-saving, energy-efficient and recyclable, but it is also viable at commercial manufacturing speeds and scale. Working with Diageo and other organisations through our Bottle and Blister Pack Collectives has enabled us to pool resources and dramatically accelerate the time to market for this important innovation.”

Johnnie Walker paper bottle

Largely coming from glass, Diageo’s packaging contributes around one third of its total Scope 3 carbon footprint. To address this, the company is exploring paper formats across its wider portfolio.

The company is also developing and internally testing a concept Johnnie Walker paper-based bottle, which is still in development phase.

Alongside this, Diageo is developing a spiral-wound paper-based bottle with Don Papa, the super-premium Filipino rum brand. The bottle is in feasibility testing and is also expected to be 90% paper-based.

The bottle is designed to remove the cardboard gift box around the bottle to give the illusion of a gift box which is in fact the whole bottle (this follows Diageo’s announcement in 2022 to start a program to remove cardboard gift boxes in its premium scotch portfolio to reduce excess packaging).

In March, Diageo announced the trial of 30,000 bottles of Baileys in an aluminium format across selected airports in Europe (Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Frankfurt), with an anticipated 44% reduction in carbon versus the current glass bottle.

Diageo is also looking at how it can reduce the carbon footprint of glass. It is trialing lightweighting its glass bottles using a novel coating developed by EXXERGY. Following a successful first stage, Diageo has invested in the second round of lab testing and will work with supply chain partners Ardagh and Dassualt Systemes to complete this.

The company is also exploring refillable containers for the on-trade​ via a partnership with ecoSPIRITS.


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