Coca-Cola launches paper bottle trial in Hungary

24 Feb 2021

After unveiling its paper bottle prototype last year, Coca-Cola is rolling out its initial market trial of the packaging in Hungary this summer. The paper bottle technology will be used to distribute 2,000 units of its plant-based smoothie brand, AdeZ, on Hungry’s popular online grocery retailer kifli.hu.

This paper prototype was developed in Coca-Cola’s innovation lab in Brussels, Belgium where it went through a battery of tests to ensure that it was durable as well as sustainable. While the first beverage that is being tested in the packaging is a smoothie, the bottle itself is designed to adapt to a variety of beverages, including still and carbonated beverages.

Coca-Cola launches paper bottle trial in Hungary
Courtesy of Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola’s current design for the prototype is not, however, 100% plastic-free. Only the outer shell of the bottle is made from paper pulp while the interior lining and the bottle cap are constructed from rPET plastic. Eventually, the beverage company said it intends to create 100% recyclable, bio-based containers; however, sustainably crafting bottles that are equipped to transport liquids and endure temperature changes has proved to be difficult. Designing sustainable alternatives is not only significantly more expensive for manufacturers, but it can often be an ineffective choice compared to plastic which offers a tight seal that keeps out air and maintains the freshness of a product.

Despite these difficulties, consumers are clamoring for sustainable packaging solutions from food and beverage manufacturers. In a study last fall from Shorr Packaging, nearly three-quarters of respondents said that packaging was an important consideration for them when selecting products with 58% saying they were “likely” or “very likely” to purchase options with a label that clearly states the packaging is recyclable or reusable.

As consumers continue to consider packaging to be an integral component of their purchasing decisions, manufacturers like Coca-Cola are striving to overhaul their containers. Nestlé pledged to spend 2 billion Swiss francs ($2.1 billion) on sustainable packaging alternatives, and several major global manufacturers have banded together to form the Paboco Pioneer Community, a coalition that includes Carlsberg, Absolut and L’Oréal that are researching alternatives to today’s sustainable packaging offerings.

Already, Carlsberg and Absolute have sustainable beverage container prototypes in the market. In 2019, the year Coca-Cola joined the coalition, Carlsberg debuted its Green Fibre Bottle, a sustainable, bio-based, fully recyclable beer bottle. Absolut is currently trialing a paper bottle in Sweden and the UK, but, similar to Coca-Cola, its design has a plastic liner and cap.

Nevertheless, as environmentally-friendly packaging becomes less of a luxury and more of a necessity to attract consumers to brands, companies will need to continue to invest in further developing solutions that allow for the safe and sustainable distribution and sale of beverages.

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