Is the Paper Bottle Alternative Sustainable?
Houston, we have a problem. One million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute. Only 9% of plastic waste is properly recycled. This means an incredible amount of PET bottles end their life cycle dumped in landfills. While always an issue for the environment, consumer awareness of recycle rates and waste has increased in recent years.
Companies like Paper Water Bottle and Boxed Water are rising to the challenge by creating paper bottles. These innovations are exactly what they sound like: bottles made from a natural pulp. This pulp can be made from bamboo, sugar cane and trees. Brand leaders and consumers alike are excited about this new idea as a green alternative to plastic bottles. However, some industry experts fear paper bottles are too good to be true.
The Benefits of Paper Bottles
The biggest benefit of paper bottles is their sustainability. By switching our reliance to renewable and fully recyclable materials, we can help the planet and ourselves. Paper bottles follow in the line of paper straws, cups, and bags that have become popular green alternatives.
Companies, like the aforementioned Paper Water Bottle and Boxed Water, are constantly working on their next generation of products that will be made entirely from paper and water-based dyes. Each percentage of plastic saved and improvement towards sustainability is a step towards a greener future.
For companies debating whether they should try paper bottles with their products there might be only one thing worth considering: consumers are going nuts for paper bottle products. Sustainable packaging company Frugalpac has had immense success with wine producer Cantina Goccia and are tripling their paper bottle output in early 2022. In order to match demand for their product, Frugalpac is planning to build a new factory in Ipswich, England.
The Drawbacks of Paper Bottles
The number one complaint faced by paper bottles is they are nothing more than a cheap marketing gimmick. Some opponents to paper bottles will highlight that their name itself is a misnomer. For this current generation of paper bottles they all require a plastic pouch or insulator of some kind in order to contain liquid. PaBoCo claims their design reduces the amount of PET plastics per bottle by 64% with a fully bio-based container in development.
Also of concern for people skeptical of paper bottles is, despite the exterior paper being biodegradable, the plastic liners are difficult to separate and therefore even more difficult to recycle than a traditional, all-plastic bottle. Paper bottles struggle to match up with the high-performance requirements that make plastic bottles so popular in the first place.
And the Winner Is…
Unsurprisingly, Coca-Cola (recently named the World’s Worst Plastic Polluter) is at the forefront of the paper bottle insulation. They have teamed up with PaBoCo in order to test a paper bottle in their supply chain. The goal is a 100% biodegradable, plastic-free container. This initiative couples with their recently announced plant-based plastic bottle in the company’s sustainability efforts.
At this moment, it is difficult to say if paper bottles will be able to fully replace the utility of plastic bottles. We have seen some incredible innovations in the last decade alone, but the basic problem of paper being a water-soluble material could be too much for even the most creative scientists to overcome. Paper bottles will inhabit a niche market (at the very least as an intriguing marketing opportunity) for the foreseeable future, but we should never completely discount the possibilities of what the technology could become.
GCB Solutions has the packaging industry experience to help you through shifting trends. Whether you are beginning the design process or looking to make that final push to launch, we can help.
Call us at (904) 263-2804 or schedule a free consultation, today!