Carlsberg is testing its fibre bottle as part of efforts to make packaging greener

Fibre bottle trial: Carlsberg extends testing of bio-based beer bottles

Drinks company Carlsberg Group has extended the trial of its new fibre bottle, and will be putting the bio-based and fully recyclable beer packaging into the hands of consumers for the first time this year.

The bottle also contains beer brewed with organic and regenerative barley, and is part of the group’s efforts to be a greener business.

Carlsberg said the pilot – which will involve bottles being put in the hands of consumers and other stakeholders through festivals and flagship events, as well as via targeted product samplings – is key to making the product a commercial reality.

Some 8,000 fibre bottles will be sampled in eight western European markets: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Poland, Germany, France, and the UK. Carlsberg said these tests will give it the opportunity to gather feedback on people’s experiences of the product, which will inform the next generation of design.

Simon Boas Hoffmeyer, group sustainability director at Carlsberg, remarked: “The progress made with our new fibre bottle is testament to Carlsberg’s pioneering spirit, with a focus on making better products in every sense of the word.

“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.”

What Carlsberg says about the new beer bottle:

  • Carlsberg said a significant milestone for the fibre bottle is its plant-based PEF polymer lining, which has been developed by Avantium, a renewable chemistry organisation. PEF is made entirely from natural raw materials, is compatible with plastic recycling systems, and can degrade into nature should it end up outside national recycling systems, according to the group.
  • The material used for the packaging protects the taste and fizziness of the beer better than conventional fossil-fuel-based PET plastic, according to Carlsberg. The outer shell of the bottle – which is produced by the packaging company Paboco – consists of sustainably-sourced wood fibre and is also bio-based. This shell has insulative properties which reportedly help keep beer colder for longer, compared to cans or glass bottles.

Stephane Munch, vice president, group development at Carlsberg, said: “Identifying and producing PEF, as a competent functional barrier for beer, has been one of our greatest challenges – so getting good test results, collaborating with suppliers and seeing the bottles being filled on the line is a great achievement.”

  • The bottle is 100% bio-based apart from the cap, which is currently needed to ensure the quality of the product, but together the bottle and cap are fully recyclable. Paboco, Carlsberg, and other partners in the wider paper bottle space are exploring alternative fibre-based bottle caps, with a generic solution expected in 2023.
  • In collaboration with barley malt supplier Soufflet, Carlsberg has brewed a beer with barley that has been cultivated using fully organic and regenerative agricultural practices. Cover crops have been grown in the organic barley fields to contribute some additional benefits of regenerative farming.
  • The methods used to make the beer ensure the same Carlsberg taste, but farming the barley in this way is set to improve farmland biodiversity, enhance soil health, and increase natural carbon sequestration by the soil versus conventional farming methods.

Carlsberg also said the fibre bottle performs better than the single-use glass bottle in the product’s lifecycle assessment, but the company’s goal is for next iterations of the bottle to achieve up to 80% fewer emissions than current single-use glass bottles.

It means for every single-use glass bottle created, five fibre bottles could be created using the same carbon footprint. Ultimately, Carlsberg is aiming for the fibre bottle to achieve the same low carbon footprint as the refillable glass bottle, which it said is currently the group’s best-performing primary packaging in terms of eco footprint.

The plan is when the fibre bottle is commercialised at scale, it will expand Carlsberg consumers’ choice, rather than replacing existing packaging such as glass bottles and cans.

Read more about greener packaging on Green Retail World

[Image credit: Carlsberg Group]

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