Danish brewing company Carlsberg is teaming up with packaging company ecoXpac, Innovation Fund Denmark and the Technical University of Denmark to create the world's first fully biodegradable bottle.
In what will be a three-year project, the company hopes to create what it calls the Green Fiber Bottle, a beverage container made from sustainably sourced wood fiber. That means, unlike plastic and glass, materials that have to actively be recycled by consumers (who sadly don't do a great job of recycling), the Green Fiber Bottle will break down on its own rather than spending a few hundred years in the landfill.
But how much difference can a better bottle make? In 2013, the Carlsberg Group sold 36 billion bottles of beer in more than 150 markets. However, Jim Daniell, director of International Media Relations and Reputation Management at Carlsberg, tells us that the new bottle, if successful, won't replace all existing Carlsberg bottles.
"It's early days yet, as this is a three-year development project," said Daniell. "But the idea would be to have the Green Fiber Bottle as one packaging option. It's important to give consumers a range of options that are both sustainable and convenient, according to their needs. Here in Denmark, for example, the returnable glass bottle is also a sustainable solution. It is very well integrated in everyday life and culture, with glass beer bottles often being washed and re-used more than 30 times before they are eventually recycled, so we'd like to offer both options to our customers."
In the United States, the Green Fiber Bottle might be a better solution because only 28 percent of glass was recycled in 2012, according to the EPA.
And Carlsberg isn't interested in keeping this new technology confidential. Daniell told MNN, "While we are taking a leading role, ultimately we would hope that as many companies as possible would be able to take advantage of the technology in the future."
More sustainable packaging would do wonders for the company. According to its 2013 annual report, packaging accounts for around 45 percent of Carlsberg's end-to-end CO2 emissions and is one of the biggest factors driving up costs. In addition to being made from eco-friendly materials, the bottle is likely to be lightweight, which would impact the company's environmental footprint. Less weight per bottle would mean that the bottles would require less energy in the shipping process.
Andraea Dawson-Shepherd, senior vice president for corporate affairs, said about the initiative, "At Carlsberg we are firm believers in the importance of a circular economy in ensuring sustainable future growth and development on our planet, and today's announcement is excellent news. If the project comes to fruition, as we think it will, it will mark a sea change in our options for packaging liquids, and will be another important step on our journey towards a circular, zero-waste economy."
Carlsberg made the announcement while talking about sustainability during the Wasteless Supply Panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos. This initiative is a part of the Carlsberg Circular Community (CCC), "a cooperation between Carlsberg and selected partners whose aim is to pursue a circular, zero-waste economy by using the Cradle to Cradle framework when developing and marketing new products."
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