Absolut-ely Amazing Paper Bottles - Pager Power
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Absolut-ely Amazing Paper Bottles

Absolut-ely Amazing Paper Bottles
April 3, 2024 Georgia Newton

For decades now, we have bought many liquids in glass bottles:

  • Milk, 
  • Gin, 
  • Beer, 
  • Vodka, 
  • Perfumes, 
  • Coca-Cola, 
  • Sauces such as Ketchup, 
  • Spreads such as jam, 
  • Vinegar,
  • Sparkling water. 

Some of the companies that produce these items have since moved over to plastic bottles, or cans, but the question is, what is the best packaging for liquids?

Glass

Glass has always been thought of as a sustainable, recyclable material that lots of products are still sold in, and in some ways that is true, but it’s also not as sustainable as you might think. Whilst we have some very good methods to help us recycle glass, such as home glass waste collections, and bottle banks, glass is much harder to recycle than we assume. Although glass is recyclable, and 100% of it can be recycled every time, without loss in quality or purity, it requires a lot of energy to recycle, produce and transport. Glass can only be recycled in furnaces that use high energy to reach high heat, to melt the glass, increasing pollution. Unless you are using the same bottle, over and over again, you would need to melt the glass in order to create something new out of the same material.

Plastic

Although a lot of plastic bottles nowadays are compatible with home recycling, a single-use plastic bottle can take around 450 years to decompose and only 9% of all plastic produced is actually recycled. Plastic bottles are recycled in a two-stage process, from sorting and removing contaminants, to being shredded into flakes or melted to form pellets before being moulded into new products. When created and recycled properly (so they don’t end up in landfill), plastic bottles have been found to be less environmentally damaging than glass bottles. This is because although plastic cannot be endlessly recycled, the manufacturing process is less energy intensive as there is a lower melting point for plastics compared to glass. This also applies to recycling the items as well as both are usually melted to be made into other items.

Paper Bottles

Switching to cardboard is less energy intensive to produce and is a lot lighter to transport in comparison to glass. For years now, we have been able to buy wine in a box, that has a plastic bag inside, filled with wine, with a tap on the outside of the box to allow you to pour the contents out easily. These have normally been associated with lower quality wines, but more recently the quality has vastly improved, and many winemakers now package their products in a similar style. These are much more sustainable and cost less to produce, transport and recycle than bottles of glass.

paper bottles

 Figure 1: An Absolut Vodka bottle.[1]

Absolut Vodka Paper bottles

The Swedish company Absolut Vodka wants to revolutionise their bottles by creating a sustainable paper bottle to distribute their products in. As part of a new trial, Absolut has made new bottles out of 57% wood fibres that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. To prevent the liquid from leaking through, the bottles contain an integrated moisture barrier made from recycled plastic. [2] This trial is part of a collaboration with Paboco and the Pioneer Community. Paboco is a paper bottle company working towards creating the world’s first 100% bio-based and recyclable paper bottle. The paper bottle can be recycled in the cardboard recycling and can be designed to hold many different products, from fizzy drinks, and condiments to sun lotion. [3] 

Absolut Vodka has been testing these paper bottles for over a decade, and they are finally launching 500-millilitre paper bottles in select Tesco stores in Manchester, UK. Much like how wine boxes are lighter and less energy-intensive to transport, Absolut will calculate the carbon footprint of the paper bottles, which will be significantly lighter than their traditional glass bottles. They will be collecting feedback from their consumers and will use their findings to make any necessary adjustments. Although they have made some giant steps in the right direction, Absolut Vodka has said that they are working very hard to achieve this, but it doesn’t happen overnight, and they are still at least one and a half years away from seeing it on the shelves at the moment. [5]

Absolut Carbon Neutrality

Absolut Vodka’s ambition is to be carbon-neutral by 2030 and they are currently on track to achieve this goal which is driven by an all-encompassing strategy. [4] They are working hand in hand with wheat farmers, suppliers, and communities to protect ecosystems, enhance biodiversity and restore the soil. As well as working on a new sustainable paper bottle in order to distribute their products, they are committed to minimising their impact by reusing, reducing rethinking and recycling at every step of the process.

[1] https://www.pexels.com/photo/absolut-vodka-on-white-wooden-plank-11982320/ – Image accessed 20/02/2024. Image of a bottle of Absolut Vodka. Photo credit: tre’s visualz.

[2] https://happyeconews.com/absolut-vodka-in-paper-bottles/ 

[3] https://www.paboco.com/ 

[4] https://theabsolutgroup.com/brands/absolut-vodka/countdown-to-carbon-neutrality-by-2030/ 

[5] https://theabsolutgroup.com/story/paper-bottle-development-reaches-significant-milestone/ 

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