The Paper Bottle project

The Paper Bottle is an innovation project where BillerudKorsnäs collaborates with some of the world's leading players in barriers, design and technology. United in shaping the future of packaging by creating the world's first 100 percent recyclable and  biodegradable paper bottle for carbonated beverages.

A catalyst for change

Alarm reports on overconsumption and harmful effects of plastics are seen more often, and consumers' desire to make sustainable packaging choices are consequently increasing. Here, the Paper Bottle project has the opportunity to become a catalyst for positive change.

In June 2013 the Danish innovation company ecoXpac manufactured the first prototype of the fiber bottle based on recycled paper. Since then, the project has evolved into a collaborative project between some of the world's leading players in technology and barriers.

Manufacturing technique and pulp formula

The BillerudKorsnäs team has developed the pulp recipe, chemistry and grinding to optimize the Paper Bottle design properties and the ability to withstand high pressure as well as  optimize the manufacturing process. The manufacturing process uses a technique based on thermoforming, which makes it possible to produce intricate forms, quickly and with reduced energy consumption.

The manufacturing process uses a technique called thermoforming or impulse drying where fiber mass is injected and dried under high pressure in a closed form. This makes it possible to produce intricate forms, quickly and with reduced energy consumption. The fiber combination also gives the Paper Bottle good mechanical properties, enabling strong and durable bottles.

The pulp recipe, chemistry and grinding is developed byBillerudKorsnäs and is designed to optimize the Paper Bottle’s design properties, the ability to withstand high pressure as well as optimize the manufacturing process.

Paper can provide unique design features

In order to become commercially viable and able to match, complement and even outperform existing packaging systems of glass, plastic or metal, the Paper Bottle must meet high expectations of brand owners, converters and consumers regarding functionality, design and durability. The goal is to create an overall attractive product for mass production with minimal waste which can provide great opportunities for unique design solutions.

BillerudKorsnäs, together with brand developer Grow, has developed a prototype that can appeal to potential brand owners while representing the origin, characteristics and design possibilities of the material.

When designing of our vision, a challenge is to create a form that could appeal to a wide range of potential brand owners, while at the same time represent a unique visual language consistent with the origin of the material. Also keeping in mind that the new bottle shape should suit mass production and meet production restrictions we have set out to explore shapes and forms that showcase how we can challenge the norm while keeping feasibility. Hence, developing a structural and graphic language that embodies the natural harmony between material, design and manufacturing.

The design, structure and graphic language of the bottle expresses a harmony between material, design and manufacturing and extracts inspiration from the patterns found in spruce and pine, two natural elements in the bottle's raw material. The design also shows a form that is as attractive to the viewer as neutral for future product categories. Hopefully potential brand owners can imagine a world where their brand is strengthened by helping consumers make better choices for the environment.

Here, "grading stamps" are explored - a system of symbols used by the forest industry to specify timber, indicating different types of products and ensuring material quality. On the side you can find the bottle's grade stamp highlighting the most important elements: the maker, material and specifications The vision of a recyclable and degradable bottle is symbolized as an eternal icon on the cork.

Questions & answers

1. By who and when did the Paper Bottle project start?

The first version of the Paper Bottle saw the light in June 2013 when Danish innovation company ecoXpac, now jointly owned by BillerudKorsnäs, manufactured the first prototype based on recycled paper. In July 2014 the Danish Institute of Technology joined the project and in January 2015 the Technical University of Denmark and the brewery group Carlsberg also joined. In parallel with this BillerudKorsnäs ran an internal icon project, assuming the challenge of making a Paper Bottle.

The cooperation with BillerudKorsnäs began in January 2015, at the same time as Carlsberg communicated its vision "Probably the greenest bottle in the world" and its collaboration with ecoXpac. The three companies had assumed the same challenge and complemented each other's skills. BillerudKorsnäs joined the Carlsberg Circular Community as an industrial partner and soon thereafter became a shareholder in ecoXpac.

In July 2019, BillerudKorsnäs and Austrian plastics manufacturer ALPLA formed a joint venture in ecoXpac to further develop and commercialize the paper bottle. As a consequence, the majority of ecoXpac is since then jointly owned by the two companies.

2. When will we see a commercially viable Paper Bottle on the market?

The Paper Bottle project started in 2015 and is now in its fourth year. But as we develop both a new packaging, technology and process it takes time. Development work is in progress, hoping to start a pilot production in the near future and, depending on the outcome of this, scale up and achieve significant production within a few years.

3. Will the Paper Bottle, in it’s final version, be recyclable and usable as a bottle again?

The bottle will be recyclable but the fibers will be reused for the production of products that can benefit from recycled paper, for example, bags and carton packaging. In order to produce a bottle of paper according to current food regulation, it is required to be made from primary fiber. That is, non-recycled fiber pulp. However, for bottles to be used for household products and other items, recycled pulp may be used.

4. How long does it take for the finished bottle to break down if it should end up in nature?

It’s too early to say because we do not yet have a fully developed bottle with a biodegradable barrier.

5. How much better for the environment is a bottle of wood fibre?

The vision is that the bottle should be biodegradable, 100 % recyclable and have environmental benefits over other fossil materials. Our vision is to maximize our positive impact, and contribute to the transition to a more biobased society, where the Paper Bottle is an example of how we can contribute.

See also

BillerudKorsnäs and ALPLA to join forces to pioneer paper bottles for a sustainable future

BillerudKorsnäs and ALPLA today announced that they will form a joint venture in the Danish paper bottle company ecoXpac.