Glass is infinitely recyclable, and in Europe 90% of it gets recycled. In America, the number is a disappointing 33%, with the rest going in landfill. Why? In a nutshell, we Americans can’t be bothered to properly separate glass for recycling, making it impossible to harvest. It boils the blood.
Danish beer brand Carlsberg is experimenting with a new bottle that doesn’t use any glass at all. This week they unveiled their Fibre Bottle, which will be rolled out in the Western European market. It has an outer shell made of “sustainably-sourced wood fibre,” according to the company.
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As for the inner liner that makes it possible for the bottle to hold beer, that’s a bit more complicated:
“[The Fibre Bottle is lined with a] plant-based PEF polymer lining, which has been developed by Carlsberg’s partner Avantium, a leading expert in renewable chemistry. PEF is made entirely from natural raw materials, is compatible with plastic recycling systems, and can degrade into nature should it end up outside national recycling systems.
“Beyond its sustainable packaging benefits, PEF functions as a highly effective barrier between the beer and the fibre outer shell, protecting the taste and fizziness of the beer better than conventional fossil-fuel-based PET plastic.”
Note that there are no details on the “degrade into nature” bit; does it degrade into microplastics, or magically disappear?
In any case, the company points out that producing the bottle uses less carbon emissions; the CO2 output required to make a single glass bottle would yield five of the Fibre Bottles. That doesn’t mean, however, that the Fibre Bottle would be the lowest-emission bottle around: That honor goes to “the refillable glass bottle, which is currently the best-performing primary packaging when collected and reused in efficient systems.”
If we Americans can’t be bothered to sort glass for recycling, I wonder if we’d at least be motivated to collect them to return, for the promise of more beer.