How many bottles of beer do you think Carlsberg sold last year?
Have a guess.
It's probably more than you think.
In 2015, Carlsberg sold a whopping 36 billion bottles, that's more than 120 million hectolitres of beer. As the figures show, this is an incredible amount of beer being produced and therefore a lot glass bottles going to waste. The iconic Carlsberg packaging accounts for 45% of their CO2 emissions and can have a negative brand effect if then disposed of in an irresponsible way. Carlsberg are conscious about how they need to focus their efforts on their sustainable growth and are now looking to bio-based solutions.
At the Sustainable Brands conference held in Copenhagen last month, Carlsberg announced that they will be making a change to the production processes for their beer bottles. The new bottles will be made from a bio-based green fibre material. The Danish brewing giant will begin working in participation with fellow Danish EcoXpac ( @ ) to create the bottles from wood fibres. With a business spanning over two decades, their focus has been to produce molded pulp solutions for packaging. These bottles are thicker but lighter than plastic alternatives. They can be manufactured into any design and size. Current technology means that each bottle can be scanned to create an exact replicated fibre copy. In addition, the trees that will be used are to be replanted at the same rate that they are harvested.
The materials will be 100% bio-degradable to prevent toxic by-products being released into the environment. “The bottle has been created with input from some of the leading packaging specialists in the world, who are very excited to participate in the project. Though we still have technical challenges to overcome, we're on track on the project,” says Håkon Langen, Packaging Innovation Director. As covered by Bio-Based World News, the move towards sustainable packaging is not a new idea with brands like Tetra Pak who now use bio-based plastic to make their bottles. However, this is certainly new for the beer brewing industry. Competitors like Corona, Becks and Heineken have only just started taking sustainability into account by implementing energy or water efficiency measures but none quite as radical as Carlsberg’s green fibre bottles. However, for Carlsberg (@CarlsbergGroup) they are focused by their three main objectives which is to minimise waste, optimise reuse and recycling.
As we know, Carlsberg’s packaging and design is crucial for their brand image, so it is now their job to market a product which will combine design and consumer appeal in one bottle that will also be saving the environment. Not only will the product itself be environmentally sustainable but it will also require less energy to make them. With the new fibre drying technology, it will reduce the usage of fossil fuels in the production process.
Carlsberg's Sustainability Director, Simon Hoffmeyer Boas ( @ ) says: “The new bottle is a great milestone in the project, as having a physical prototype makes it easier for us to explain the new packaging format to consumers and colleagues. I think the new bottle looks great and shows how we can use innovation and design to help shape products for a better tomorrow.”
Boas has worked behind Carlsberg’s CSR initiative for the past eight years and plans to execute sustainable business development projects. The company have ‘stepped up’ by creating the ‘Carlsberg Circular Community’ to rethink design, production and packaging for the brand. Boas makes the claim that “To [Carlsberg], sustainability or CSR is business, it’s not something that’s detached.” This project will be supported by the Innovation Fund Denmark and the Technical University of Denmark. Whilst it is expected that Carlsberg will face some technical difficulties, the brewing giant believe that they will be able to launch this product to market in the next three years. A pilot market test in set to be launched in 2018.
- Create consumer-facing sustainable packaging activity by all Group companies
- Improve returnable packaging performance in production and in trade in markets where returnable packaging is part of the long-term packaging strategy
Whilst the green fibre bottle is ambitious, it is something that Carlsberg are confident they can deliver and sell to the global consumer by 2019.
“We are thrilled to cooperate with Carlsberg on developing a bottle that will be both truly sustainable and appealing to consumers. The coming three years will be both challenging and exciting, and we can’t wait to put the bottle on the market.” Martin Pederson, CEO of EcoXpac.
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