On sustainability and Johnnie Walker's new paper bottles

On Sustainability and Johnnie Walker’s New Paper Bottle

Prepare to feel the love for the environment while sipping your whisky. Diageo, a British multinational beverage alcohol company, announced on Monday the new breakthrough in the bottling industry. Johnnie Walker, the company’s flagship and the world’s number one Scotch Whisky will hit the shelves on paper bottles 2021.

On sustainability and Johnnie Walker's new paper bottles
Johnnie Walker’s new paper bottle design

Diageo has formed partnership with Pilot Lite, a venture management company to launch Pulpex Limited, “a new world-leading sustainable packaging technology company”.

Pulpex Limited’s technology allows it to create a “one-of-its-kind” paper based bottle that is 100% plastic-free and recyclable. “The bottle is made from sustainably sourced pulp to meet food-safe standards and will be fully recyclable in standard waste streams”. The technology is not just limited to the company’s products but also can be used across a range of consumer goods.

“We’re proud to have created this world first. We are constantly striving to push the boundaries within sustainable packaging and this bottle has the potential to be truly ground-breaking. It feels fitting that we should launch it with Johnnie Walker, a brand that has often led the way in innovation throughout its 200 years existence.”

Ewan Andrew
Chief Sustainability Officer, Diageo PLC

 What drives Diageo with this bold step is their commitment towards Goal 12 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: “Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns. Worldwide consumption and production — a driving force of the global economy — rest on the use of the natural environment and resources in a way that continues to have destructive impacts on the planet”.

The number one culprit on environmental destruction is none other than plastic.

Plastic has molded our society to make life easier however this technology that started its mass production in 1940s has a seriously harmful effects on all life forms on this planet. Some people say that not all plastics are toxic, there are food grade ones that are safer on solid form. But little did they know that plastic is harmful in many ways whether liquid or solid.

On sustainability and Johnnie Walker's new paper bottles
Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com | Plastics sitting on landfills release BPA

Bisphenol A or BPA that’s absorbed by the body can cause reproductive cancers, obesity, type-2 diabetes and even autism. Polyethylene terephthalate when exposed to heat, gives out Antimony, a toxic metalloid can cause vomiting, diarrhea and stomach ulcers. HDPE or High-density polyethylene leaches into body and causes estrogenic chemicals dangerous to fetuses and juveniles. PVC or polyvinyl chlorider contains a phthalate called DEHP, which can cause male traits to become more feminized.

These plastics just leach chemicals into the body by using plastic products, throwing them to the oceans or just by sitting in the landfill. No wonder when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 93 percent of people had detectable levels of BPA in their urine, that’s because this planet is now made up of plastic.

To date, there have been 5.25 trillion macro and micro pieces of plastic in the ocean & 46,000 pieces in every square mile of ocean, weighing up to 269,000 tonnes.

One hundred percent of the baby turtles has plastic on their stomachs, 88% of the sea’s surface is polluted by plastic waste and 1 in 3 fish caught for human consumption contains plastic.

On sustainability and Johnnie Walker's new paper bottles
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com | 88% of the sea’s surface is polluted by plastic waste

So why replace glass bottles if the issue is plastic?

While glass bottles are made up of 100% natural materials such as sand, soda and limestone, the productions still has “significant carbon footprints. It takes a lot of energy to power glass furnaces, many of which use natural gas to melt the materials”.

Glass bottle is still better than plastic. Although it takes 1 million years to decompose, it doesn’t leach toxins into human body. It has non-porous surface that makes it easy to clean and by nature antibacterial. Because of these qualities, it can be re-purpose endlessly.

On the other hand, paper bottles will be “made by pressurizing pulp in molds which will then be cured in microwave ovens. The bottles will be sprayed internally with coatings that are designed not to interact with the drinks they will contain. Many cartons made out of paper have a plastic coating inside to stop the drinks leaking out”.

Diageo is not the only one dreaming of a plastic-free future, companies like “Carlsberg is now in the process of developing paper beer bottle and UK firm Frugalpac produces paper wine bottles which it says are made from recycled paper with a ‘food grade liner'”. However, Coca-cola remains loyal to its customers’ plastic preference.

It’s not a secret that plastic endures thousand of years but surely experts will find ways to eliminate it safely. For now, ceasing its manufacturing can be a huge help. Companies across the globe should follow suit what Diageo, Carlsberg and Frugalpac are doing— be advocates for sustainability.

Sources: 

https://www.condorferries.co.uk/plastic-in-the-ocean-statistics, https://www.diageo.com/, https://www.ehn.org/plastic-environmental-impact-2501923191.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1, https://www.bbc.com/news/business-53392949#:~:text=Johnnie%20Walker%2C%20the%20whisky%20which,friendly%20packaging%20from%20next%20year, https://www.seasandstraws.com/glass-or-plastic.html#:~:text=Glass%20neither%20absorbs%20smells%20and,sand%2C%20soda%20and%20limestone).