A British designer is offering a grown-up step up from wine boxes. Created by Martin Myerscough of Greenbottle, the paper wine bottle is biodegradable and compostable.
Myerscough is also the designer of the first paper milk bottles. His inspiration for both paper packaging designs came from trips to the dump. The designer questions how effective glass recycling actually is at a large scale, saying that the UK are “net importers of wine bottles and it’s not worth shipping the glass back so it ends up here as road aggregate.”
Dimensioned to fit in a normal production line, the Greenbottle paper wine bottle features an inner foil lining, similar to wineboxes, to keep the product fresh and the container dry. Made of a combination of cardboard and ultralight plastic, the packaging is one tenth the weight of a glass bottle and produces ten percent of the carbon footprint of glass. The plastic is designed to easily separate from the paper for separate recycling.
DesignWeek provided an analysis of the design’s potential from a recycling advocacy organization, a wine branding expert, and a sustainability branding expert.
WRAP (Waste Resources Action Programme) stated support for any packaging innovations that reduce waste and environmental impact, but the organization was concerned that the mixing of paper and foil can cause problems in composting or recycling.
From a branding perspective, Omar Honigh, a managing partner of Studio Hansa and expert in wine branding, praised the concept, easy function, affordability, timeliness, and marketability. However, Honigh downgraded the paper wine bottle for its papier-mache appearance. In the wine industry especially, packaging is key to establishing branding and consumer recognition.
Samantha Dumont, a creative partner at Dragon Rouge, appreciated the concept and emphasized the need to figure out how to present the unfamiliar product as a premium wine. Dumont traced the branding changes in the wine market from basic, homogeneous labels to more pictorial and graphic as a precedent for a shift in consumer taste.
All experts agreed that the idea is positive and feasible; the challenge lies in convincing buyers—at the commercial and consumer levels—to buy in.
Aesthetically, the bottle is a little rough around the edges, which will make converting wine lovers from glass bottles to paper difficult. In an article for The Guardian, Adam Lechmere, a news editor at Decanter magazine, says
"How wine looks is incredibly important; it's such an arcane business. Consumers don't care so much about whether wine is green or not. It's not like meat or veg. We don't interrogate wine like we do a chicken."
Considering that studies predict the UK will run out of landfill space within seven years, efforts to produce biodegradable packaging and reduce waste will be crucial for both consumers and manufacturers.
Myerscough points out that the decreased weight of the Greenbottle packaging will result in energy and carbon savings during manufacturing and shipping. His ultimate intent is to sell the technology to companies who will manufacture and bottle locally.
The Greenbottle paper milk bottle has been successful in a test run in the Asda chain of groceries in southwestern England and Myerscough is in discussion with a large Yorkshire-based bottle manufacturer for the wine bottle.