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14 November, 2011 - 07:41 By News Desk

Paper bottles could trigger export boom

Martin Myerscough

A small UK company is set to go global with its invention of a paper bottle, which slashes the carbon footprint of the packaging industry.

GreenBottle, based in Suffolk, cut its teeth on paper bottles for milk and is now unveiling the world’s first paper bottle for wine.

Martin Myerscough’s invention could help rid the planet of an estimated 30 billion plastic bottles and billions more glass ones that are produced every year – 6.5 million of them in the UK alone.

The paper version for milk has been successfully trialled in Asda stores in the South West of England. Now GreenBottle is in talks with supermarkets and wine producers to make the paper wine bottle available to the British public as early as next year.

The company says that since its launch earlier this year in Asda stores, consumer reaction to the paper milk bottle has been “spectacular.”

In a six-month trial, sales of milk packaged in paper bottles more than tripled previous sales of milk sold in conventional plastic versions. Post-usage research indicates that over 80 per cent of consumers who try GreenBottle prefer it over plastic bottles and instantly understand the environmental benefits it brings.

GreenBottle has just sold its 100,000th bottle, making it one of the fastest selling green packaging solutions in the UK and a potential world beating export.

Each day, over 15 million plastic bottles are used in the UK and the vast majority of these, whether sent for recycling or not, are ultimately destined for landfill, where, because they do not decompose, they will pollute the planet for up to 500 years.

GreenBottles use less than a third of the plastic of conventional milk bottles, with a much lower carbon footprint. The paper bottle itself is compostable, can be recycled several times and decomposes in just a matter of weeks.

The packaging is made of paper with a thin plastic lining and was the brainchild of Suffolk inventor Martin Myerscough following a chance conversation with a waste tip supervisor worried about the growing and seemingly insoluble problem of plastic bottle waste.

The company, based in Woodbridge in Suffolk, is now close to unveiling new packaging technology it has developed to create even greener and cheaper GreenBottles.

This machinery is truly innovative and totally proprietary to GreenBottle.  It will enable the paper bottle technology to be produced in industrial quantities, and cost effectively versus existing packaging.

It is attracting worldwide interest in the drinks, dairy and detergents industries and GreenBottle expects to begin moving into these categories, including potential sales in overseas markets, in 2012.

Martin Myerscough said: “The best thing about GreenBottle is that consumers just ‘get it’. We’ve found that if you offer them the choice of a paper bottle or a plastic one they’ll choose paper every time.

“Choosing milk in GreenBottles enables consumers to ‘do their bit’ for the environment every day – and our sales show that ever-greater numbers of consumers are doing this.

“We’re hopeful that the success we’ve had with GreenBottle in milk can be repeated with wine. It would mean an end to those morning-after trips to the bottle bank. All you would need to do is rip out the plastic lining and put the paper outer-casing in the bin or on the compost heap.

“We’ve had a lot of interest from supermarkets and wine producers so we could see the wine GreenBottle on shelves as early as next year.”

The GreenBottle success story has been achieved without funding support from UK banks – the business is funded by private investors and grants secured from the European Union.

Myerscough added: “Despite all the economic doom and gloom we’re proving that it’s perfectly possible to succeed as a small business provided you've got a good idea, your technology is genuinely better and you’re prepared to go out and talk to right-minded investors.

“We’ve had no funding help from the banks – but that hasn’t stopped us moving forward. If your idea is strong enough the funds are out there somewhere.”

According to the Waste & Resources Action Programme, the UK also buys in around 1.2 billion glass bottles a year, generating CO2 emissions during transportation and contributing more than 630,000 tonnes of glass to the UK waste stream, around 40 per cent of which is disposed of as household waste. The estimated carbon footprint for a wine GreenBottle is 10 per cent of an equivalent glass bottle.

• Inventor Martin Myerscough

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