The VICE Guide to Right Now

You Can Soon Get Your Whiskey in Recyclable Paper Bottles

The world's largest spirits maker is set to sell its Johnnie Walker whiskey in environmentally-friendly packaging from next year.
14 July 2020, 10:12am
person-holding-clear-drinking-glass-4691217
Photo courtesy of cottonbro / Pexels

Every day we wake up, we move a little closer to our planet dying. Climate change is a very real threat that is looming on us, even as the world’s attention has shifted to death by pandemic. But even as our immediate priorities have changed and sustainability has been put on the back-burner yet again, the carbon footprint we’re leaving behind on the planet is very real. And food and drinks packaging constitutes a pretty major chunk of the waste we generate. Now, to solve a little of this problem, Johnnie Walker whiskey’s parent company and the world’s biggest spirits maker Diageo has created the world’s first-ever paper-based bottle.

This bottle that is slated to come out early next year is said to be made entirely of sustainably sourced wood. They’ve created it with a partnership with a venture management company and launched Pulpex Limited—a sustainable packaging technology company. Pulpex claims to have developed a “first-of-its-kind” paper-based bottle designed to be totally plastic-free and fully recyclable. It will be made from sustainably sourced pulp and will be fully recyclable in standard waste streams, unlike their original glass bottles.

In comparison, glass manufacturing requires the burning of fossil fuels—such as natural gas, light and heavy fuel oils and liquefied petroleum gas. The air emissions that follow include greenhouse gases, sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides. The process also releases fine particulates that can contain heavy metals such as arsenic and lead.

However, this is not the drinks giant’s first attempt to go sustainable. Last month, the company announced that it’s Seagram 7 Crown whiskey

will be bottled in recycled plastic

. Diageo is expecting to launch their own branded paper bottles next year as well, which will not not only provide paper-based packaging for Johnnie Walker, but also for other brands like Unilever and the soda giant PepsiCo.

The packaging, they say in their statement, has been designed to contain a variety of liquid products and will form part of Diageo’s commitment towards Goal 12 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Responsible Consumption and Production. “We are constantly striving to push the boundaries within sustainable packaging and this bottle has the potential to be truly ground-breaking,” said Ewan Andrew, the chief sustainability officer of Diageo PLC in their statement.

Johnnie Walker is among the many drinks brands that have claimed to go eco-friendly with their packaging in recent history. Carlsberg, last year, had come out with paper beer bottles, which they claimed, had also been sourced from sustainable wood fibres. Absolut Vodka also partnered with the same paper bottle company as Carlsberg to produce sustainable bottles.

But drink and soda giants—Coca Cola, Nestlé and PepsiCo—are also the world’s top plastic polluters. It would take more than paper bottles to solve the problem but hopefully, this technology will influence more brands to go for greener packaging on their products. Well, the world is ending but at least your Scotch will not accelerate its demise, thank god.

Follow Satviki on Instagram.