Carlsberg is getting closer to its goal of selling beer in paper bottles.
On Thursday, the Danish beer company revealed two new recyclable prototypes of the sustainably-sourced wood fiber bottle it hopes to eventually bring to market. One version is lined with a thin film of recycled PET plastic to keep beer from seeping out. The other uses a bio-based lining. The prototypes will be used to test the linings.
For Carlsberg, the innovation is a way to lower its impact on the environment and present consumers with an interesting new option.
Fiber bottles are better for the environment than aluminum or glass because they are sourced in a sustainable way, and because the material has a "very low impact on production process," explained Myriam Shingleton, vice president of group development for Carlsberg.
"The energy and efficiency of the technology that we're using" reduce carbon emissions compared to other production processes, she said.
Carlsberg started working on the new type of packaging in 2015, and is still a few years away — at least — from selling the bottle to customers. One reason that it's taking so long to develop an effective paper bottle is because Carlsberg needs to make sure that the new package doesn't alter the taste of its carbonated beverage, and because the types of materials it's seeking, like the bio-based polymer lining, are not commercially available.
To move things forward, Carlsberg has been partnering with packaging experts and other companies. On Thursday, Carlsberg said that Absolut, Coca-Cola and L'Oréal are joining its efforts to develop effective paper packaging. More partners can help drive up mainstream demand for the type of materials it needs.
Shingleton noted that Carlsberg isn't hoping to replace its cans and bottles with the new model. Instead, the company wants to offer its customers another option.
Carlsberg is not the only company getting creative about its packaging.
Unilever has tried out soap-like shampoo bars, bamboo toothbrushes, cardboard deodorant sticks and reusable packages to help it meet its sustainability goals. PepsiCo and Coca-Cola have each shared plans to start selling water in aluminum cans to cut down their use of plastic packaging. Adidas is making a recyclable shoe, and Procter & Gamble is testing refillable packages for Olay moisturizer.
Carlsberg has already launched some innovations that are helping it cut down on waste.
Last year, the company started selling beers in "snap packs." The packs feature beer cans that were glued together, instead of held together by plastic rings that often end up polluting the ocean and can harm animal life. It took Carlsberg and its partners three years to develop the technology.