Only in Europe people consume on average around 80 liters of beer each year (source: Brewers of Europe). Some beer is packaged in glass, making it more sustainable than plastic for sure, but still not sustainable in absolute terms. But much more beer is packaged in cans, which contains high levels of polymers that, as we all know by now, are detrimental for the environment. Moreover, usually the production processes of these packs is very impactful.

For this reason Carlsberg, the Copenhagen based company, has been trying to reduce as much as possible any polymer used in their packaging, while also implementing a set of other strategies to become a less impactful company. The launch of this new packaging, in fact, is one of the initiatives belonging to the “Together Towards Zero” campaign. With this commitment Carlsberg is aiming to reach zero carbon emission by 2030, so they started to work on sustainable packagings in 2015.

So what is this packaging all about?
In early October, Carlsberg presented the results of years of research in the form of two prototypes of beer bottle made from sustainably-sourced wood fiber and called “Green fiber bottle”. This research was carried in partnership with some important partners, namely ecoXpac which includes the Innovation Fund Denmark and the Danish Technical University. Together, they managed to create the 100% biodegradable bottle that is now being tested as the new packaging for the danish beer.

An issue with these prototypes is that, in order to contain liquid without getting wet or ruined they need to have an internal barrier. The barrier seems to have represented the biggest challenges because, as we know, the ability to store food and liquids is one of the main benefits of plastic.
The two prototypes present two different films inside: one made from a recycled plastic film and the other one made from a 100% bio-based plastic polymer.

Although recycled, or bio-based, the presence of plastic remains. The company declared that they are trying to completely eliminate polymers from the packaging of all their products. The road is still long, but the progress being made are substantial.

When innovation meets sustainability, well.. it is always good news! Companies such as Carlsberg are the representation of what it means to invest to achieve sustainability goals. Design, engineering, passion for their own product and care for the planet are all the elements that came together to achieve this new packaging. There are still investments to be made, there is still space for research in many fields to obtain 100% sustainable products, many more elements are to be taken into consideration in the whole life of the products but each step in the right direction is a step to be celebrated.

Big corporations are responsible for a number of problems affecting our environment, from actual pollution to the wrong consumption models that they have been promoting for years. Still, a small move from a big corporation can be extremely impactful, even just in terms of number of people that they are able to reach. As a consequence, while we try our best to create awareness around companies’ misbehaviors, we also need to push forward these initiatives, hoping they are not mere attempts to greenwash consumers.

Written by Maria Vittoria Cerboni