Finnish paper maker Stora Enso has started supplying Pulpex with the materials required to test large-scale production of paper bottles. Pulpex is a joint venture between Diageo (which owns brands like Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Guinness) and Pilot Lite (a venture management company). Last year, Diageo announced a cardboard bottle for its Johnnie Walker brand as early as 2021. With this in mind, the two companies are focusing on developing a high-speed production line which is expected to be operational in 2022.

To produce these bottles and containers, Stora Enso uses sustainably sourced formed fibre product manufactured by pressing various wood-based pulps into a three-dimensional shape in a moulding machine.

By using Stora Enso formed fibre material, Pulpex will produce paper bottles for various global brands, including homecare and personal care products to liquid foods, alcohol and non-alcohol beverages.

Such fibre-based bottles and containers would enable a significantly lower carbon footprint of packaging, compared with glass or PET. The customizable Pulpex bottle allows for embossing, colouring and labelling to fit brand needs.

This cooperation marks an important step in bringing to market a truly sustainable alternative to plastic bottles and containers, while offering end-user qualities that match those of traditional packaging,” explains Sohrab Kazemahvazi, SVP Formed Fiber at Stora Enso.

In addition to Diageo, Unilever, Pepsico, GSK Consumer Healthcare and Castrol have also joined Pulpex in a global consortium. Each company is committed to using Pulpex technology for its brands with the goal of producing 750 million paper bottles each year.

Unlike Ecologic Brands’ bottles - recently acquired by Jabil Inc. - or classic TetraPack bricks, bottles designed by Pulpex can enter paper recycling streams directly without the need to separate their different components.

In recent years, other consumer goods and packaging companies have tackled the challenge of creating paper-based bottles with the aim to reduce plastic consumption.