Johnnie Walker To Launch 100% Plastic-Free Paper Bottles Next Year

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Johnnie Walker, the famous brand of Scotch whisky, will be introducing a new plastic-free bottle made from paper next spring. It is a part of a new collaboration between the brand’s parent corporation Diageo and venture management firm Pilot Lite to launch a new sustainable packaging company called Pulpex Limited

Announced on July 13, British beverage giant Diageo, whose brand portfolio includes Smirnoff, Guinness and Johnnie Walker, will be debuting the world’s first paper-based spirits bottle. The bottle, which is fully recyclable, is made using sustainably sourced wood pulp and contains no plastic. It will roll out in one size and variant of Johnnie Walker’s whisky in early 2021, the company revealed. 

“We’re proud to have created this world first,” said Ewan Andrew, the chief sustainability officer at Diageo. “We are constantly striving to push the boundaries within sustainable packaging and this bottle has the potential to be truly ground-breaking.”

The limited trial of the bottle will be used to test a potential larger-scale roll out of the paper-based packaging in the future in order to replace the use of glass bottles across Diageo’s product lines. Currently, over 95% of the packaging used by brands owned by the corporation is made of glass. 

While glass is superior to petroleum-based plastics that are non-biodegradable and the source of almost 8 million metric tonnes of waste entering the oceans each year, the current rate of demand for glass is also unsustainable

Globally, the world is using up 50 billion tonnes of sand every year, which is twice the amount that our rivers can replenish in the same time frame. Commonly harvested from seabeds and riverbeds, the demand for sand is disrupting marine ecosystems and microorganisms that depend upon it for survival, and leaving coastal communities vulnerable to flooding caused by erosion as well. 

Diageo added that Pulpex Limited, the makers of the technology behind the new paper-based bottle packaging, will plan to expand its brand partnerships later this year. It unveiled an impressive list of multinationals backing the technology, including Unilever and PepsiCo, who are expected to launch their own branded paper bottles in 2021. 

“Joining forces to develop and test paper bottles is an incredibly exciting step forward, and we’re delighted to be working together to tackle one of the biggest environmental challenges of our time,” said Richard Slater, the chief R&D officer at Unilever. 

Other FMCG giants have placed their bets on a new “all plant” compostable bottle developed by Dutch biochemicals firm Avantium. Using plant sugars sourced from biowaste to manufacture these bottles instead of fossil fuels, the end degradable and recyclable product is not only more carbon-friendly but helps to alleviate food waste.

So far, Avantium’s prototype has won the support of Coca-Cola and Danone, who hope to use the technology for their bottled products by 2023. Beer maker Carlsberg has also backed the new plant bottle, and is aiming to sell its pilsner in a cardboard paper bottle lined with the plant bioplastic in the future. 

Lead image courtesy of Diageo / designed by Green Queen Media.


  • Sally Ho

    Sally Ho is Green Queen's former resident writer and lead reporter. Passionate about the environment, social issues and health, she is always looking into the latest climate stories in Hong Kong and beyond. A long-time vegan, she also hopes to promote healthy and plant-based lifestyle choices in Asia. Sally has a background in Politics and International Relations from her studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

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