In its largest pilot to date, Carlsberg Group has today unveiled the test with its new Fiber Bottle, which gives consumers the bio-based and completely recyclable beer bottle for the first time. With a continued focus on developing technology and sustainable methods, the bottle also contains beer brewed with organic and regenerative barley.
The pilot, which is crucial in accelerating Carlsberg’s ambition to make the beer bottle a commercial reality, will see 8,000 fiber bottles sampled in eight Western European markets: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the United Kingdom, Poland, Germany and France. The bottles will be placed in the hands of local consumers, customers and other stakeholders through selected festivals and flagship events, as well as targeted product sampling.
Tests on this scale will give Carlsberg the opportunity to gather feedback on people’s experiences of the product, which will inform the next generation’s design.
The new fiber bottle exploits the potential of PEF
A significant milestone for the fiber bottle is its plant-based PEF polymer lining, which has been developed by Carlsberg’s partner Avantium, a leading expert in renewable chemistry. PEF is completely made from natural raw materials, is compatible with plastic recycling systems and can be degraded in nature if it ends up outside national recycling systems.
In addition to its durable packaging advantages, PEF acts as a very effective barrier between the beer and the outer shell of the fiber, which protects the beer’s taste and foam better than conventional fossil fuel-based PET plastic. The outer shell of the bottle, produced by the packaging company Paboco, consists of sustainably produced wood fiber and is also bio-based. This shell has the added benefit of insulating properties that can help keep beer cooler longer, compared to cans or glass bottles.
Stephane Munch, VP Group Development at Carlsberg, says: “We are pleased to be able to take our new fiber bottle into the hands of consumers, so that they can experience it for themselves. This pilot will serve a greater purpose in testing production, performance and large-scale recycling of this product. “
“Identifying and producing PEF, as a competent functional barrier for beer, has been one of our biggest challenges – so getting good test results, working with suppliers and seeing the bottles filled on the line is a great achievement!”
The bottle is 100% bio-based in addition to the cap which is currently needed to ensure the quality of the product and together the bottle and lid are fully recyclable. Going forward, Paboco, Carlsberg and partners in the broader paper bottle community are exploring alternative fiber-based caps, with a generic solution expected in 2023. Carlsberg will continue the development, together with Avantium and Paboco, to arrive at a tailored 3.0 solution that is equally suitable for primary beer packaging, with the help of this year’s consumer feedback and Paboco’s development.
Brewed with unconventional grain
Progress has not been limited to the bottle itself, as Carlsberg has also bottled a more sustainable brew for its consumer trials in 2022. In collaboration with barley malt supplier Soufflet, Carlsberg has brewed a beer with barley that has been grown using completely organic and regenerative agricultural methods. More specifically, cover crops have been grown in the organic barley fields to contribute some additional benefits to regenerative agriculture.
Although consumers can still expect the same distinct Carlsberg flavor, the methods used to grow the grain are geared towards improving the biodiversity of farmland, improving soil health and increasing the natural carbon sequestration of the soil compared to conventional farming methods.
The constant pursuit of better
Generation 2.0 of Fiber Bottle already performs better than the disposable glass bottle in the product’s life cycle assessment, and Carlsberg has even greater ambitions for the subsequent Generation 3.0 design. Carlsberg’s vision, based on current forecasts, is that the Fiber Bottle will achieve up to 80% less emissions than current disposable glass bottles.
Thus, for each disposable glass bottle created, five fiber bottles could be created with the same carbon footprint. In the end, Carlsberg aims for the fiber bottle to achieve the same low carbon footprint as the refillable glass bottle, which is currently the primary packaging with the best performance when collected and reused in efficient systems. When the Fiber Bottle is commercialized on a large scale, it will expand Carlsberg’s consumers’ choices and complement, rather than replace, existing packaging such as glass bottles and jars.
Simon Boas Hoffmeyer, Group Sustainability Director at Carlsberg, adds: “The progress of our new fiber bottle is a testament to Carlsberg’s pioneering spirit, focusing on making better products in every sense of the word. We have been working hard on this project since 2015 and aim for to continue to set the industry standard by further improving the bottle’s environmental footprint and product performance. Cooperation is the key and together with our partners we are pleased to see how research and development of sustainable packaging solutions is now the norm. ”
The trial precedes the global launch of Carlsberg’s ambitious ESG program, Together Towards Zero and Beyond, which will build on existing sustainability performance and momentum to take on new ambitions in sustainable agriculture and sustainable packaging, ultimately enabling Carlsberg to reduce their carbon dioxide impact throughout the value chain.
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