Graphic shows the design of the Pobaco-Carlsberg Green Fibre Bottle prototype.
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ENVIRONMENT

Carlsberg’s cardboard beer bottle

By Ninian Carter

October 30, 2019 - Within a few years, Carlsberg beer may be bought in cardboard bottles that are 100% recyclable, or that biodegrade if dropped as litter.

Brewing giant Carlsberg is working with Danish start-up Paboco to design a paper-based beer bottle that can be pulped and recycled after use, or decompose harmlessly in the environment if left as litter.

The current prototype features reconstituted wood fibres with a metal cap – although plans are underway to design a tethered cap made from either a bio composite or just pure paper. Currently, to keep the bottle from getting soggy, it is lined with a thin layer of polyethylene furanoate or PEF – a tough, fully recyclable plastic substitute made from plants rather than oil, a process less harmful to the environment.

Fundamental to plans to upscale the business to an industrial level is responsible forestry. For every tree harvested, two or three will be planted and allowed to grow to an optimal size before harvesting. Growing trees can bind more carbon dioxide than older ones, so a cycle of frequently harvesting and planting younger trees absorbs more carbon dioxide than a forest that is allowed to mature and stop growing.

Carlsberg says their Green Fibre Bottle is an important step in its ultimate ambition to phase out glass and metal containers, but not quite yet. Initially, it hopes to offer cardboard bottles as an alternative, perhaps beginning in as little as two years.

The Danish brewer has form with eco-friendly initiatives. In 2018, it launched the Snap Pack, where beer cans are attached together for multi-packs using naturally decomposing glue rather than tethered with plastic rings or shrink-wrapped plastic, reducing packaging waste by more than 1,200 tonnes a year – equivalent to 60 million plastic bags.

Paboco is working on similar bottle initiatives for brands such as Absolut vodka, Coca-Cola and L’Oréal.

PUBLISHED:30/10/2019; STORY: Graphic News; ADDITIONAL ARTWORK: Handouts
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