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Diageo launches paper(ish) bottle for Baileys

Diageo, the maker of Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky, Don Julio Tequila and Guinness has this month been trialling paper-based packaging for Baileys.

The dry moulded fibre bottle is 90% paper, with a thin plastic liner and a foil seal. The liner is “so thin that consumers can put it in their usual paper recycling stream and don’t need to separate the bottle from the liner”, explained Ewan Andrew, president, global supply chain and procurement and chief sustainability officer at Diageo.

A paper-based bottle launched by Absolut Vodka 12 months ago featured only 57% paper, with the remainder plastic. The bottle as created through the Paboco initiative, of which Coca-Cola and Carlsberg are also a part. The latter has been trialling paper bottles for beer – which could reportedly boost sales among female drinkers.

Diageo’s paper-based bottle trials involved 2,000 mini-format (80ml) bottles trial at Time Out Festival in Barcelona, Spain, last week. This first step will help test how the bottles travel from the filling site in Ireland, to Barcelona, along with “how consumers interact with the material, and how they understand the sustainability credentials of the paper bottle”.

Diageo has been working on the bottle as part of the PA Consulting and the Pulpac Bottle Collective. PA claimed the bottles “have lower energy, water, and transport requirements than the alternatives, but are also cost-competitive and scalable for mass volume production”. PA sustainable packaging expert Jamie Stone said the dry moulded fibre bottles “are more valuable per gram than equivalent cardboard, incentivising recycling”.

Campaigners have however raised serious questions about substituting plastic with paper – which they argue is swapping one environmental tragedy (plastic pollution) with another (deforestation).

Andrew said: “When it comes to our packaging, we’re taking an approach of progress over perfection.”

There are a number of technical challenges involved in creating a paper bottle for liquids. The one promised in 2021 for Johnnie Walker whisky has yet to hit shelves, for example.

Other pilots and NPD are also being tested. Earlier this year Diageo ran a trial involving 30,000 bottles of Baileys in an aluminium format across selected airports in Europe (Copenhagen, Amsterdam and Frankfurt), with an “anticipated 44% reduction in carbon versus the current glass bottle”.

The use of aluminium for mini drinks formats is becoming popular. Virgin Atlantic and easyJet are for example stocking British spirit brands that come in aluminium bottles in a bid to reduce their carbon emissions.

The Alumini bottle, created by travel packaging start-up Sustainaholics and available on easyJet, is less than half the weight of glass and pitched as a lightweight alternative to PET plastic. It won the Innovations in Packaging category at last year’s Footprint Drinks Sustainability Awards.

Sapling Spirits has also teamed up with Virgin Atlantic to launch an aluminium miniature.

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