Many innovations are happening with wine and spirits bottles:

  • paper bottles with plastic liners
  • shipping coolers that you return with empty bottles
  • flat, rectangular bottles that are easier to ship—including some made of plastic that fit through a mail slot

Now Diageo has taken a new step with a bottle for Johnnie Walker scotch made of 100% paper from sustainably sourced wood, part of the company’s sustainability commitments.

The spirits giant, with brands including Smirnoff and Guinness, is part of a consortium with global consumer goods companies, including PepsiCo and Unilever, which will introduce paper bottles for their own brands later this year in categories that don’t compete against one another. The bottles will debut with Johnnie Walker early next year.

The technology is from Pulpex Limited packaging, started by Diageo and venture management company Pilot Lite.

The bottles are formed by pressurizing pulp in molds, and the containers are cured in microwave ovens, then sprayed internally with specialized coatings compatible with the liquids they will hold, which can include carbonated and hot-fill products.

The goal is for the cap to be made of paper too, but a recyclable aluminium cap would stand in if that idea needs more development time.

The bottles are designed to go in regular recycling streams, with biodegradable options available. The technology can be easily incorporated into manufacturers’ current filling lines, Pulpex says.

Diageo says the option will allow brands to rethink packaging designs or move current designs to a single-mold paper format without compromising product quality.

Pulpex promotes itself as a ready-to-go, economical solution to help brands to achieve sustainability goals at scale. The packaging has a 90% lower carbon footprint than glass and 30% lower than PET, according to Pulpex.

“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,” says Ewan Andrew, chief sustainability officer, Diageo.

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