Green and tonic: gin in paper bottles is the new eco-tipple

Packagers step up production of ‘frugal’ containers as consumers embrace sustainable alternative

The world’s first gin in a paper-based bottle is set to go on sale in the UK early next year as packaging specialists jostle to step up production of eco-friendly alternatives to the traditional glass container.

The UK manufacturer of the so-called “frugal” bottle – made from predominantly recycled paperboard with a food-grade liner inside – has received orders from around the world to make containers for sake and spirits in Japan, whiskey in the US and wine in Spain, Australia, Italy and France.

Frugalpac, based in Suffolk, has recently partnered with Silent Pool Distillers in Surrey to produce the world’s first commercial gin in a paper bottle in early 2021, opening a new factory to increase production capacity.

The new eco-friendly bottles – which can be recycled along with household waste – are a novel alternative to the carbon-intensive glass model devised by the Romans but which has remained largely unchanged since the 19th century. Although glass can be recycled, it is very carbon-intensive to make.

The frugal bottle, made from recycled paperboard, is five times lighter than a glass one and has a carbon footprint up to six times (84%) lower than a glass bottle.

New research shows that nearly two-thirds of wine drinkers in the UK said they would buy wine in a paper bottle, according to Frugalpac’s independent research. The survey by Survation found that 63% would buy it in a new-style container, while only 14% said they would not.

Malcolm Waugh, chief executive of Frugalpac, said: “Our bottle seems to have really captured the imagination of drinks brands and customers. It’s clear that people want to drink more sustainably, and paper bottles are here to stay. Wine experts used to say people would turn their noses up at screw caps. But they’ve become the norm and we believe the paper bottle will prove just as popular.”

The new product is based on the model for “bag in box” wines – dubbed “cardbordeaux” and “bagnums” – which enjoyed a sales surge in the UK during lockdown as Britons opted for better value for money and fewer trips to the supermarket.

Frugalpac, which devised what it claimed was the world’s first fully recyclable coffee cup, was recently singled out by the UK Department for International Trade’s Great Britain campaign as “doing incredible things to help build a global sustainable future” in the run-up to next year’s COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow.


Rebecca Smithers

The GuardianTramp

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