Massachusetts Beverage Business



 Wine packaging used to be so simple. A bottle, a cork and done. These days though, as the world’s landfills are overflowing, alternative biodegradable packaging is the wave of the future. In response to this mounting threat, the UK will soon see the launch of the world’s first paper wine bottle. It may not get the warmest reception from the wine world but the company behind the product is already in talks with a leading supermarket chain and says it will be on the shelves in early 2O12. With the UK set to run out of space for landfill within seven years, the bottle’s makers claim biodegradable packaging will become a paramount issue for both consumers and manufacturers. The paper bottle weighs only 55g compared with 5OOg for a glass bottle, meaning transport costs will be hugely reduced. In addition, its carbon footprint is only 1O% of that of a glass bottle. The paper bottle is compostable and decomposes in weeks. Greenbottle, the company behind the product, already manufactures the world’s first paper milk bottle, which is being tested in stores in the southwest of England and is proving popular with ethically-minded customers.

“In local shops where they are available, they are outselling milk in plastic bottles by two or three to one,” said Martin Myerscough, the Suffolk businessman who invented the paper bottle. Myerscough formed his company after talking to a waste tip supervisor who told him plastic bottles were the biggest problem in his job. More than 15 million plastic bottles are used in the UK. Most end up in landfill where they will last for up to 5OO years. Myerscough says that retaining the wine bottle shape was important to reassure consumers. “We can be more radical, but we are inventing a concept here and we don’t want people to be too scared about it. If we are going to change consumer habits, we need to lead them along gently,” he said. The wine bottles feature a similar bag to that in wine boxes so the drink is kept in pristine condition. Greenbottle’s products are currently made in Turkey but a plant is due to open in Cornwall soon. The intention is to sell the technology to companies, allowing them to build bottling plants next to their manufacturing sites and cut down on transport times. The current machinery is capable of producing 5O milk bottles a minute and is patent-protected. But while consumers have been receptive to paper milk bottles, venturing into the wine market is risky business. A wine bottle’s image is oftentimes what sells it. Convincing consumers to “go green” when buying their wine poses a considerable challenge. Will the US soon see the paper wine bottle? Probably. Will it sell? It’s anyone’s guess.

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