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UK: Ribena launches paper straw trial

With global war on plastic straws declared over two years ago, there has been little news of commercialised paper alternatives for single-serve cartons. What seems simple is clearly full of challenges – but UK brand Ribena has recently announced a new prototype.

Ribena has begun a paper straw trial for its drinks cartons in the UK — preventing up to 16 tonnes of plastic each year. Claimed as a “first” for a major juice drinks brand in the UK, packs with the new straw design are now available in Tesco’s stores.

The move is part of brand owner Suntory Beverage & Food Great Britain and Ireland’s plan to make 100% of its packaging sustainable by 2030.

The company views a suitable paper replacement for plastic straws as an important step, because it eliminates a piece of plastic packaging that often goes unrecycled.

The company’s business transformation manager, Jo Padwick, said: “Currently only 65% of local authorities collect cartons from household waste, which is why we’re welcoming national governments’ moves to introduce consistency in household recycling collections.

“Developing a bendable, durable paper straw, hasn’t been easy, but recycling it should be.

“We’ve conducted hours of consumer testing to make sure our new paper straws can puncture the carton, that they don’t become soggy, and that Ribena lovers enjoy the feel of sipping from them.

“Now that they’re on the shelf in Tesco we can gather even more feedback before rolling the straws out more widely.”

This move is the latest in a range of packaging innovations that brand owner Suntory Beverage & Food Great Britain and Ireland has invested in.

These include successful trials of edible packaging at sporting events, which is thanks to a recent breakthrough in enzymatic plastic recycling.

Developing the straw

Developing the paper straws, Suntory Beverage & Food Great Britain and Ireland has worked with sustainable packaging experts Transcend Packaging, a global pioneer in sustainable packaging and the “first” major producer of paper straws in the UK.

Transcend Packaging CEO Lorenzo Angelucci said: “After many months of development and a rigorous testing process, we are pleased to bring to market a bendable paper straw that provides a sustainable option for drinks cartons.

“As the European leader in paper straw production, we are committed to the challenge of creating new and innovative products that help leading brands meet sustainability goals.

Tesco’s head of packaging James Bull added: “We are working with our suppliers to remove and reduce as much packaging as we can, reuse more, and to make sure everything that’s left is recycled.

“It’s vital that all products become recyclable as quickly as possible, so we’re delighted that Ribena is redesigning the packaging on sale in our stores and cutting down on hard-to-recycle plastics.”

During this trial, Ribena will include on-pack messaging to signal the changes to its blackcurrant No Added Sugar cartons.

Suntory Beverage & Food Great Britain and Ireland is also continuing to work with Transcend to develop a hygienic wrapper from alternative materials that will stand up to the rigours of rucksacks and refrigerators.


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