Plastic has long been a nemesis for the environment. Plastic requires more than 1000 years of decomposing in landfills. The world required a new form of packaging that is sustainable does less harm to the environment and can be easily disposable. Paper-based bottles are a new phenomenon that is about to catch the world.
Firstly, paper-based bottles are biodegradable made from a pulp mixture of wheat, sugarcane, bamboo, husks, or bulrush. Additionally, the paper is easier to recycle than plastic as it is a non-synthetic material. It can be easily repulped and put back into the manufacturing chain. Paper requires about two to six weeks of decomposing in landfills. Paper-based bottles have many applications in water, alcoholic, and non-alcoholic beverages. It is also being used by personal care companies in shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and moisturizers.
The paper-based bottle market is still in its growth phase. Researchers are still working to find suitable materials that can withstand physical and durability challenges. Paper-based bottles require a thin-film of resin inside to withstand moisture. Also, the cap provided to the bottle is either metal or aluminum. Research is ongoing to make a cyclical ecosystem for paper-based bottles and make recycling easier.
Public perception regarding plastics has become a sort of negative. Consumers have become more aware and are demanding packaging solutions that are sustainable, cause less harm to the environment, and have a low carbon footprint. The demand for sustainable packaging materials that have a low impact on waste accumulation is on the rise. Consumers feel more at ease when such demands are satisfied. This negative perception of plastic bottles is expected to fuel the paper-based bottle market growth.
Governments all over the world have literally called out war on single-use plastics. Stringent regulations, even on PET and PETE bottles, are on the rise. The U.K. government is proposing a tax on plastic packaging, which is made from less than 30% recycled content, by 2020. The EU has drawn out a plan to achieve a 90% collection target by 2029.
Earlier, things were different when countries such as the Philippines and China used to willingly allow other countries to send waste for disposal. But now, the waste disposal market is shrinking, and governments have to find newer ways for plastic disposal. Plastic bottle manufacturing companies in India are in serious doubt whether the PET bottles will be considered as single-use plastic. The government of India in October 2019 declared to end single-use plastic usage by 2022. Such regulations are expected to accelerate, especially with the pandemic making it a nightmare for plastic bottle manufacturers.
The concept of paper-based bottles is not new. In fact, researchers have been trying to develop a paper-based product for several years. Companies such as Coca-Cola, Carlsberg, and Paboco were at the forefront of this research. The paper-based bottles currently present in the market are using a thin-film of resin inside to hold up the liquid and not allow moisture to interact. Also, the lid that is being used is either made of plastic or metal that is the current bottles are not 100% paper-based. As consumer demand, government regulations, and the number of market players increase, innovation in the paper-based bottle market will be accelerated, making 100% paper-based bottle a reality.
There are some shortcomings for paper-based bottles to become mainstream. For a bottle to get manufactured in paper, it requires more mass than plastic. Paper-based bottle companies need to ensure mitigation of risks attached to raw material sourcing of paper. From a design point of view, paper-based bottles are still not transparent, which is a major downside to the beverage industry.
Bioplastics, in the long run, may create competition in the paper-based bottle market. Bioplastics are generally made from corn, lactic acid, and vegetable oil. However, the paper has a lesser impact on bioplastics. The energy, resources, and pollution that paper creates during its manufacturing is higher than bioplastics. Bioplastics are likely to come into the fold in the later stages of the forecast period when manufacturers find a way to use recycled content and recycling sorting facilities (MRFs) have the capabilities to accept and sort bio-plastics.
The alcoholic beverage market segment holds the largest market share during the forecast period. Companies such as Carlsberg Group and Diageo have been the first to invest in the development of 100% plastic-free and sustainable bottles. The non-alcoholic beverage packaging, on the other hand, is also expected to get affected by the introduction of paper bottles. Companies such as Coca Cola and PepsiCo have already collaborated with paper bottle manufacturers to develop paper bottles. Paper-based bottle manufacturers are projected to find it difficult to maintain the carbonated gas inside the bottle.
As per the International Bottled Water Organization, PET bottled water is heavily dominant almost across the world. In 2019, bottled water ranked as the largest beverage category by volume in the U.S. for the fourth consecutive year. Paper-based bottle manufacturers will be looking to penetrate this market space in the forecast period. Companies are also looking to offer wine in paper bottles. In contrast, Loreal and Unilever are developing paper-based bottles for lotions and other liquids. Even the coatings manufacturers such as Teknos are looking to introduce paper bottles for coatings.
The U.S. has a poor recycling ecosystem, with only 29% of PET bottles are collected for recycling. Of these, 70% of bottles are discarded due to contamination, according to a Greenpeace report in 2018. The U.S. government and market players need to figure out economically viable options for sorting equipment. Paper-based bottle manufacturers are projected to find this inaction profitable, leveraging the paper-based bottle market. In Canada, Kruger Inc. partnered with Ecologic Brands Inc. in 2014 to become a prime manufacturing company in Canada, producing a paper-based bottle.
In Europe, heavy investment is made for research in paper-based technology. Companies are partnering with paper-based bottle manufacturers to develop 100% plastic-free products. Companies such as Avantium are tying up with paper bottle manufacturers to develop renewable polymers inside the paper bottles. The joint venture between BillerudKorsnäs AB and ALPLA-Werke Alwin Lehner GmbH & Co KG turned up the things for the market. More such collaborations are visible where Puplex Limited partnered with Pepsico, Unilever to develop a product that is 100% sourced from the sustainably sourced pulp.