Bacardi to launch biodegradable spirits bottles by 2023

Pictured: Bacardi Rum products housed in the new material

The company, which owns brands including Martini, Grey Goose and Bombay Sapphire, has been working with Austrian biomaterial firm Danimer Scientific to develop a spirits bottle and bottle neck closure made using oil from plants like palm, soy and canola.

It claims that the bottle will be able to degrade outside of industrial conditions – including in compost, on land, in freshwater and in the sea – in between six to 18 months. Selected lines of Bacardi rum will be transitioned to the new packaging in the coming months, with the company’s entire portfolio of 200 brands to follow suit by the end of 2023.

Danimer Scientific and Bacardi are also working to develop a paper-based bottle lined with the same biomaterial, called Nodax PHA. A release date for this format has not yet been confirmed. However, Bacardi has pledged to eliminate all plastic from its customer-facing packaging portfolio globally by 2030.

“When we set ourselves the goal of being 100% plastic-free by 2030, we knew that it would take ground-breaking advances in packaging design to make it achievable, and that’s exactly what’s happening through our partnership with Danimer,” Bacardi’s senior vice-president of global operations Jean-Marc Lambert said.

“Once we’ve fixed the problem, we’ll be open-sourcing the solution for the entire industry to use. This isn’t about competitive advantage –  it’s about doing the right thing for the planet.”

Danimer Scientific said in a statement that it has considered the life-cycle impact of its materials, including the fact that soy and palm are often linked to deforestation and the fact that bio-based plastics alternatives are not recycled at kerbside in many regions.

Plastic-free tipple

Many of Bacardi’s product lines are already plastic-free bar the bottle neck closure, which is a key challenge across the global spirits industry.

As such, it has broader targets to reach 100% recyclable packaging with an average of 40% recycled content by 2025, and to source all paper and card through sustainable certification schemes within the same timeframe.

Bacardi also recently unveiled the designs for its Christmas gift packs for Martini and Grey Goose which will be sold online in markets including the UK and Germany. The packs contain 25% less primary packaging by weight than last year’s editions.

Other beverage companies with time-bound targets to go plastic-free include Pernod Ricard, The Absolut Company and Diageo. The latter two of these firms are taking part in the PaBoCo project – a collaborative initiative to create paper bottles. L’Oreal, Carlsberg, Unilever, PepsiCo and The Coca-Cola Company are also PaBoCo members.

Sarah George

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