Coca-Cola is partnering with Danish startup Paboco to develop a 100% paper bottle as part of a longer-term bid to eliminate plastic from its packaging entirely.
Coca-Cola is to test a paper bottle as part of a longer-term bid to eliminate plastic from its packaging. But the goal is to create a 100% recyclable, plastic-free bottle capable of preventing gas escaping from carbonated drinks.The barrier must also ensure no fibres flake off into the liquid. That would pose a risk of altering the taste of the drink - or potentially fall foul of health and safety checks. But industry giants are backing the plan. Coca-Cola, for example, has set a goal of producing zero waste by 2030, according BBC.com.
Soft drink manufacturers are facing pressure on two fronts: the amount of sugar in their drinks and the amount of plastic waste their products produce. Coca-Cola is attempting to solve that second problem with the development and testing of a paper bottle.
Coca-Cola was ranked the world's number one plastic polluter by charity group Break Free From Plastic last year, closely followed by other drink-producers Pepsi and Nestle. Part of the challenge has been to create a structure capable of withstanding the forces exerted by fizzy drinks - such as cola and beer - which are bottled under pressure.
On top of that, the paper needs to be mouldable, to create distinct bottle shapes and sizes for different brands, and take ink for printing their labels. After more than seven years of lab work, the firm is now ready to host a trial in Hungary this summer of Coca-Cola's fruit drink Adez. Initially, this will involve 2,000 bottles distributed via a local retail chain. It is also working with others. Absolut, the vodka-maker, is due to test 2,000 paper bottles of it own in the UK and Sweden of its pre-mixed, carbonated raspberry drink.
And beer company Carlsberg is also building prototypes of a paper beer bottle, reported BBC. Coca-Cola and Absolut's trials will be the first real-world test of whether the technology holds up to the rough-and-tumble logistics of food transport.
The paper cannot come into direct contact with liquids, the plan is to use a plant-based coating on the inside of the bottle. Hence, even if the tests go without flaws, the real challenge will be getting rid of plastic altogether.
“It's going to be a bio-based barrier, that's really something minimal, that keeps that food safe, that keeps the product safe at the same time," Mr Michelsen said.
"We have a couple of different options... we have the technology path pretty much chosen, but it is something that we definitely need to pilot and prototype."
One of the benefits of using a plastic screw top is that the prototypes can be used on existing production lines. However. they will need to be adapted in time for an all-paper cap.