Not Just a Matter of Taste: Wine in Paper Bottle
They have already won awards at the PAC Global Awards for Innovative Packaging in New York, and now the first paper bottles of Italian wine are filling the shelves in Germany.
Wine in paper bottles? Yes, it does exist. The Heinz Hein company from Wiesbaden imports the “Cantina Goccia” grape juice from Italy in a new type of sustainable packaging. “Sustainability is very important to the winemaker and to us. That’s why it was only logical to look for an alternative that doesn’t leave such a large ecological footprint as glass production, which alone consumes a lot of water,” explains Silvia Miebach, owner of Heinz Hein. At 82 grams, she says, the paper bottle is five times lighter than a glass bottle. It contains 77 percent less plastic than conventional plastic bottles, she adds. A floral patterned outer shell made of 94 percent recycled cardboard adorns the product. Inner PET protects against the paper packaging from softening, he said. “Overall, the carbon footprint is six times lower than that of glass bottles, according to manufacturer Frugalpac,” adds Silvia Miebach.
Innovation in the wine industry
The recycling principle of the paper bottle is already familiar from dairy products such as yogurt: After consumption, the outer shell is peeled off and goes into the waste paper, the inner packaging into the yellow or recyclables garbage can. “This is the biggest innovation in the wine industry for a long time. Rising prices and supply problems of glass are now a problem. We are therefore all the more pleased to have found a much better, environmentally friendly solution here,” says Miebach.
Consumers in Germany consider paper packaging to be particularly environmentally friendly. Nevertheless, they tend to be skeptical about innovative products such as paper-based bottles. This is the result of a recent study by the University of Bonn and the Jülich Research Center. Almost 3,000 men and women from all over Germany were surveyed for the study.
A key finding of the study: paper-based packaging received significantly better environmental marks on average than that made of bioplastics. Conventional plastic packaging scored worst on this point. It is true that the respondents were suspicious about the practicability of paper containers. However, they considered them quite suitable for protecting soft fruit such as berries from damage during transport.
Incidentally, the study says nothing about how sustainable bioplastics or cardboard bottles really are. "In some cases, there is still no data at all on the new packaging," explains Janine Macht, a doctoral student at the Institute of Food and Resource Economics at the University of Bonn, who is also a member of the University's Transdisciplinary Research Area "Sustainable Futures." In any case, she says, it is difficult to make a blanket assessment of the life cycle assessment. Whether plastic made from renewable raw materials is really sustainable depends on many factors: Where the raw materials came from or whether valuable agricultural land was sacrificed for production, which could then lead to the clearing of more forests. How well the plastic can be composted and recycled is another factor.
The situation is similar with paper-based packaging, he said: Their production also consumes resources and energy – sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the production location and method. "In principle, it is certainly best to avoid packaging as much as possible," the scientist emphasizes. "However, that doesn't always work. Liquids need a container in which to be stored. Fruits like raspberries would not survive transport to the retailer or even from the supermarket to home without protective packaging."