Food & Drink

The Green Case for Putting Wine Into Cardboard Bottles


Photograph by Christopher Chung/ZumapressApart from the introduction of twist-off caps, glass wine bottles have remained impervious to innovation for centuries—mainly because there’s nothing wrong with them. Or is there? Come to think of it, they’re awfully heavy to lug around.

That’s the insight behind Paperboy, a new brand of wine packaged in cardboard sleeves, making it not only easier to carry but kinder to the planet. The container is made mostly of industrial paper waste that’s 80 percent lighter than its glass cousin, so it takes less fuel to transport.

The idea originated with graphic designer Kevin Shaw, of London-based Stranger & Stranger, who pitched it to his client Truett Hurst, a winemaker in Healdsburg, Calif. The result is an affordable line of wine with an eye-catching, retrocool label aimed squarely at millennial drinkers.

The packaging itself, molded from paper pulp and lined with a plastic bladder, is made by GreenBottle. According to the U.K.-based company, paper bottles offer benefits to wine drinkers besides their lighter weight. The insulation keeps wine cooler longer, there’s no risk of breaking, and cardboard is easier and more efficient to recycle than glass.

Truett Hurst estimates that one cross-country truck of Paperboy wine saves approximately 61 gallons of diesel fuel and prevents 1,365 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Paper bottles are also less energy-intensive to make, with a carbon footprint that’s 67 percent less than that of glass containers.

Wine connoisseurs may sniff at storing wine in cardboard, but they aren’t Paperboy’s target customers. At $15 a bottle, this vino is priced for chugging, not appreciating in the musty hollow of a wine cellar. Safeway (SWY) stores in 44 states carry the Paso Robles red blend and Mendocino chardonnay. The vintage year is 2012, for what it’s worth.

Lanks is the design editor of Businessweek.com.

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Companies Mentioned

  • SWY
    (Safeway Inc)
    • $34.77 USD
    • -0.18
    • -0.52%
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