Whatever is the world of the drinker coming to? There was shock and horror when wine first became available in cardboard boxes. There was further dismay among traditionalists when corks gave way to screw tops on some wine bottles. Now — shock of all shocks and horror of all horrors — decent Scotch whisky is going to be sold in bottles made from paper.
Legendary Johnnie Walker will lead the paper bottle charge
The news is enough to make an avid whisky-drinker have a wee dram or two just to calm their nerves, especially when they hear that the brand involved in none other than the legendary Johnnie Walker.
But no doubt we’ll all get over it eventually and a tot of the amber nectar from the famous distillery will hopefully taste just as good as it did back in the 1860s.
The idea is to move to bottles that are better for the environment and more easily recyclable. While Johnnie Walker will be the first spirits brand to use the bottle, which is made entirely from sustainably sourced wood, soft drink company PepsiCo and consumer goods giant Unilever are also part of the project.
New whisky bottle unveiled this week and goes on sale in 2021
The new bottle was launched this week by global liquor giant Diageo, which apart from Johnnie Walker includes the likes of Smirnoff vodka and Guinness beer in its stable.
Diageo hails it in an adjective-laden press statement as “the world’s first ever 100% plastic-free paper-based spirits bottle, made entirely from sustainably sourced wood”. The first bottles containing Johnnie Walker will begin going on sale in early 2021.
The bottle is food-safe and Diageo claims the technology “will allow brands to rethink their packaging designs, or move existing designs into paper, whilst not compromising on the existing quality of the product”.
New bottle-manufacturing venture and multiple partners
To manufacture the bottle on a commercial scale, Diageo has gone into partnership with a venture capital company named Pilot Lite. Together they have launched a packaging technology business called Pulpex Limited.
Unilever and PepsiCo are the others in the consortium and both are expected to launch their own branded paper bottles during the course of next year.
Unilever says it aims to halve its use of virgin plastic and cut use of plastic packaging by more than 100 000 tonnes in the next five years. Plastic, it says, “is one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time” and a paper bottle could go a long way towards helping to solve that.
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