Prototype bottles | Credit: Britvic
EXCLUSIVE: Beverage giant reveals it has developed ‘patent-pending’ moulding and processing techniques that enable production of wood fibre bottles on prototype manufacturing line
Britvic, the owner of high profile drinks brands such as Robinson’s squash and Fruit Shoots, has revealed it has made significant progress in its quest to develop a drinks bottle made from wood fibre, with patents pending on a range of moulding and processing techniques.
Britvic, which is also the UK bottler for soft drinks brand Pepsi, has spent the last three years working with Innovate UK and UK firm Natural Resources to develop a viable bottle made from sustainable wood fibres.
In its latest sustainability report, seen exclusively by BusinessGreen, BritVic reveals it has made headway in developing a viable bottle with patents pending on new manufacturing techniques and production underway on a prototype manufacturing line.
An accompanying bottle top also made of wood fibre material has also been demonstrated.
“This year, we have reached a proof of principle milestone on developing a viable bottle from sustainable wood fibres,” the report states.
However, the project is still in its early days and Britvic is not yet sure whether it will be viable as a commercial packaging solution, warned head of supply chains Clive Hooper. “The project is still at the exploratory R&D phase,” he told BusinessGreen. “I don’t know whether the pulp bottle will become a mainstream bottle in the future, but what it is for us is an opportunity to experiment with new materials.”
The firm is now examining whether the bottle could be produced on existing production lines, the type of bottling machine that would be needed to produce it, and whether it would be possible to efficiently source sustainable wood fibres for its manufacture. The company is also yet to determine the best type of coating needed for the bottle to become non-porous.
“It’s all very well having a great R&D bottle but if you can’t mass produce it and make it financially viable it’s unlikely to succeed going forward,” Hooper said.
However, the company hailed the breakthrough as a potential step forwards in the industry-wide push to develop more sustainable bottles.
Britvic is not the only firm experimenting with wood fibre as a potential material for drinks packaging. In October beer giant Carlsberg revealed the latest prototype for its wood pulp bottle, which has been under development since 2015.
Current plans are to test-launch the bottle in a pilot market in 2018, according to Packaging News.