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.

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A catalyst for change

We are part of a time where the way that we live and consume is undergoing considerable shifts. Alarm reports on overconsumtion and accumulating negative effects of plastics are seen more and more frequently, and consumers' awareness for our environment and desire to make sustainable choices increase consequently. Here the Paper Bottle project, with all it’s participants and already in it’s proof of concept phase, have the opportunity to become a catalyst for change. When realized, the project has the potential to not only revolutionise the beverage industry and packaging industry, it will also and send a clear signal about the urgent need for a sharp reduction in the use of fossil-based solutions.

Packaging plays as much a role in the consumer experience as it does in creating waste. Today, we know that we have the capacity to answer to both consumer and environmental demands by challenging conventional packaging and developing alternatives that will one day become the norm. Replacing materials that threaten our planet and minimise waste ultimately means lending a hand to shape a path towards a more sustainable future.

"Through determination, courage and expert partnerships everyone could transform the world into using more sustainable solutions. We are now developing the Paper Bottle with potential to challenge conventional methods on how to package carbonated beverages. It is a truly encouraging enterprise and great opportunity for all participants to enhance their public recognition and sustainability performance."
- Petra Einarsson, President and CEO BillerudKorsnäs

"We are preparing for a world based on renewable resources. With unwavering ambition, we journey alongside the industry’s best. The fiber based bottle will impact the future, as the solution designed for circularity."
- Jesper Servé, Founder ecoXpac

Shaping the future packaging for carbonated beverages

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. Since then, the project has evolved into a collaborative platform for game-changing innovation between BillerudKorsnäs and some of the world’s leading players in technology as well as leading brand partners.

By collaborating through the value chain from raw material to consumer and recycling, the time to market can be shortened already in the development phase. The ambition is to launch a market viable packaging that leaves a minimal to neutral environmental footprint and reach full-scale production in a few years.

The project currently includes five categories of partners:

• Technology- and production partners
• Fibre and barrier partners
• Brand partners
• Design partners
• Recycling partners

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.

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 third 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.

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