Prototype Paper Drinks Container Project Reaches Consumer Trial Phase
Coca-Cola, whose drinks bottles have been described as the world's worst source of plastic pollution, is to trial a new paper-based container in Hungary this summer.
Two thousand 250ml-sized prototype bottles of the Coca-cola company's AdeZ vegetable smoothie drink will be tested by consumers in a trial that the manufacturers hope will pave the way for the widespread use of plastic-free containers.
The paper packaging concept was launched by its Danish manufacturer The Paper Bottle Company – or Paboco for short – in September 2019, part of a project including other brands reliant on liquid containers such as Absolut, Carlsberg and L'Oréal. Paboco launched paper prototypes for Absolut vodka bottles in September 2020 and its first Coca-cola version two months later, but this is the first product that will be made available to consumers.
'This trial will provide us with invaluable insight and feedback,' said Stijn Franssen, R&D packaging innovation manager for Coca-Cola Europe. 'We will get to see how the paper bottle prototype performs as packaging and what consumers think and feel about it. This is an exciting step forward for us, as it means we’re out of the lab and into the real world. So for the first time, consumers will actually be drinking one of our products from a potentially new type of paper packaging.'
The current prototype is not, however, completely plastic-free. The paper breaks down after prolonged contact with liquids and hence a lining made from recycled (and recyclable) plastic is required to coat the inside of the paper shell. The cap is also made from 100 per cent recycled plastic. Paboco is working towards a design that will eventually remove plastic from the equation entirely.
'We have a couple of different options,' said Michael Michelsen, Paboco's business development manager. 'It's going to be a bio-based barrier, that's really something minimal, that keeps food safe, that keeps the product safe at the same time. We have the technology path pretty much chosen, but it is something that we definitely need to pilot and prototype.'
'The trial we are announcing today is a milestone for us in our quest to develop a paper bottle,' said Daniela Zahariea, director of technical supply chain innovation for Coca-Cola Europe. 'People expect Coca-Cola to develop and bring to market new, innovative and sustainable types of packaging. That’s why we are partnering with experts like Paboco, experimenting openly and conducting this first-in-market trial. It’s part of delivering on our World Without Waste commitments.'