“World’s first” plastic-free paper-based spirits bottle unveiled by Diageo

The bottle will be made from sustainably sourced wood, and will debut with the Johnnie Walker whisky brand in 2021.

Diageo, the makers of alcoholic drinks like Johnnie Walker whisky, Guinness and Smirnoff, has unveiled what it says is the “world’s first” 100% plastic-free, paper-based spirits bottle.

The technology is the product of a newly established partnership between Diaego and venture management company Pilot Lite, named Pulpex Limited. The “world-leading sustainable packaging technology company” will roll out the paper-based bottles from early next year, starting with Diageo’s Johnnie Walker whisky.

The new wood pulp bottle


The product itself, billed as the “first-of-its-kind”, is a scalable paper-based bottle which will replace conventional glass and plastic alternatives.

Made from sustainably sourced wood pulp, the bottle will be fully recyclable in standard waste streams, the company said. The idea, it adds, is that consumers will be able to drop the bottles straight into compost recycling.

The process of making the product will include pressuring pulp in moulds, which will then be cured using microwave ovens.

The inside of the bottles will then be sprayed with a coating designed not to interact with the drinks, so as to meet the food safety standards required. This is a common feature of carton-based drinks containers, though usually this seal is made from plastic – Diageo has confirmed their version will not use plastic in the coating.

“In every area of life”

Development of the technology, the company says, will allow brands to rethink packaging designs for new products and move existing ones into paper.

And to ensure the innovation can be used “in every area of life”, the Pulpex partnership will also deliver paper-based, plastic-free packaging solutions for other fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands in non-competing categories, including Unilever and PepsiCo.

Unilever and PepsiCo are expected to launch their own branded paper bottles using the Pulpex design and technology in 2021.

Evian’s new label-free bottle

Changing attitudes toward plastic

Plastic alternatives in food packaging has been a consistent focus for the design industry for some time now.

Though drinks giant Coco-Cola stuck by its single-use bottles back in January, saying “people still want plastic”, elsewhere there has been considerable taste for change.

Beer brewers Carlsberg is working on the “world’s first” paper beer bottle, and while still made from plastic, earlier this month bottled water brand Evian launched its first label-free, fully recyclable bottle, which is itself made from 100% recycled plastic.

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