Brewer Carlsberg is to conduct a pilot in which 8,000 fibre bottles made from natural raw materials will be distributed to consumers across western Europe.
The beer bottles will be distributed at festivals and events Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the UK, Poland, Germany and France to gather customer feedback.
The fibre bottle uses a plant-based polymer lining, developed by renewable chemistry expert Avantium. The sustainable packaging is compatible with plastic recycling systems, and consists of sustainably-sourced wood fibre produced by packaging company Paboco.
Carlsberg said the bottle would sit alongside, and not replace, glass bottles and cans. The company said the fibre bottle had potentially a fifth of the carbon footprint of a glass bottle.
A “Paper Bottle Community”, which also includes the Coca-Cola Company and the Absolut Company, was launched as part of a project by Paboco to develop a 100% biodegradable bottle made from recyclable paper.
Gittan Schiöld, CEO at Paboco, told Supply Management: "Wood fiber is the key resource for the paper bottle, but as all materials, using the fibre resource creates an impact. Working actively with sustainable sourcing, visibility, and traceability solutions to reduce deforestation is important to ensure a high level of consideration for the planet.
"We are FSC-certified and source only FSC mix pulp mainly from the Nordic region with majority coming from Sweden and Finland. We buy dry pulp and then refine and mix with water on site. We circulate the water that we use in our converting process and are working hard to increase the efficiency of the paper bottle process."
The bottle is entirely bio-based aside from the cap, which is still fully recyclable. Going forward, Paboco, Carlsberg and partners in the wider Paper Bottle Community are exploring alternative fibre-based bottle caps, with a generic solution expected in 2023.
The current generation produces less carbon in its lifecycle than single-use glass bottles, and current projections suggest the fibre bottle’s next generation will achieve 80% emissions reduction compared to glass bottles.
Simon Boas Hoffmeyer, group sustainability director at Carlsberg, said: “We’ve been working hard on this project since 2015, and aim to continue to set the industry standard by further improving the bottle’s environmental footprint and product performance.
“Collaboration is key and, together with our partners, we’re excited to see how research and development into sustainable packaging solutions is now becoming the norm.”
Carlsberg joined the project in 2015, and has been developing the wood fibre bottle over the past three years.
Paboco’s product boasts up to 65% plastic reduction, and has responsible paper sources certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. They state for every tree harvested, two or three more are planted and allowed to grow to optimal size.
Michael Michelsen, commercial director at Paboco, told Supply Management: "What Paboco is trying to do is be the end-to-end technical supplier of the packaging solution. There are a couple of key principles that we never shy away from. One of those when working with paper is FSC. We need sustainably sourced and renewed materials when we're working with a renewable base, so regenerative practices in getting the raw material to the company.
"Now we're also trying to be a bit clever about how we move weight about, because that's pretty key for the packaging industry as well. We want to move as much dry product as we can, which is relevant for paper because it's sometimes re-wetted. We're trying to optimise for logistics systems to have the best possible flow wherever possible.
"It's really all about looking at a good material base, and being clever about how you get that material towards processing sites."
Carlsberg also bottled more sustainable beer through barley malt supplier Soufflet, which grows cover crops in organic barley fields, and using regenerative agricultural practices. These measures are set to improve farmland biodiversity, enhance soil health, and increase natural carbon sequestration by the soil.