Johnnie Walker to be available in paper bottles soon, in an effort to reduce plastic use

Johnnie Walker, the whisky which traces its roots back 200 years, will soon be available in paper bottles. Diageo, the drinks giant that owns the brand, said it plans to run a trial of the new environmentally-friendly packaging from next year.

The brand, popular with travellers the world over, is sold in glass bottles, but the firm is now looking for ways of using less plastic across its products, according to a report by the BBC.

Whisky tours are very popular with tourists who visit Scotland and Diageo is playing a role. The Johnnie Walker Princes Street attraction is the focal point of Diageo’s £150 million investment in Scotch whisky tourism and plans include transforming Glenkinchie, Cardhu, Caol Ila and Clynelish distilleries and restoring those in Brora in the Highlands and Port Ellen on Islay.

Featuring two rooftop bars, a flagship retail store, a variety of interactive tours, exclusive tasting experiences and much more, Johnnie Walker Princes Street is looking to offer the ultimate whisky experience for guests from home and abroad.

Making bottles from glass also consumes energy and creates carbon emissions. To make the bottles, Diageo will co-launch a firm called Pulpex, which will also produce packaging for the likes of Unilever and PepsiCo, BBC said.

Diageo’s paper whisky bottle, which will be trialled in spring 2021, will be made from wood pulp and will be fully recyclable, the company said. The idea is that customers would be able to drop them straight into the recycling.

Drinks companies have been developing paper bottles to try to cut down on pollution and make products more sustainable. While Carlsberg is in the process of developing a paper beer bottle, UK firm Frugalpac produces paper wine bottles which it says are made from recycled paper. However, drinks giant Coca-Cola in January said it would not ditch single-use plastic bottles because consumers still want them, said the BBC report.

Diageo said its bottles will be made by pressurising pulp in moulds which will then be cured in microwave ovens. The bottles will be sprayed internally with coatings that are designed not to interact with the drinks they will contain. Many cartons made out of paper have a plastic coating inside to stop the drinks leaking out. Diageo, however, said its drinks bottles will not have that plastic coating.

Companies are coming under increasing pressure to reduce the amount of plastic in packaging as consumers increasingly focus on damage to ecosystems. In Europe, 8.2 million tonnes of plastic were used to package food and drink in 2018, according to estimates.

While glass bottle manufacturers are striving to make production more efficient, they still have a significant carbon footprint. It takes a lot of energy to power glass furnaces, many of which use natural gas to melt raw materials such as sand and limestone, the report added.

Johnnie Walker is a brand of Scotch whisky, that originated in the Scottish burgh of Kilmarnock in East Ayrshire. The brand was first established by a grocer named John Walker, exactly two centuries ago.