Raising spirits

Frugalpac is making a bid to revolutionise the wine industry with its Frugal Bottle made almost entirely from recycled paper. Its chief executive, Malcolm Waugh, tells James Richards how he’s saving the planet, one bottle at a time

British sustainable packaging company Frugalpac is on a mission to decarbonise food and drink packaging.

Following its Frugal Cup, which is made from 96 per cent recycled paper, the company launched the Frugal Bottle in June last year. The 75cl unit is made almost entirely from recycled paperboard (94 per cent), and contains a food grade recyclable plastic pouch for the liquid. The firm says it is the world’s first commercially available paper bottle for wine, spirits and oils.

The design offers a 360-degree paper canvas for producers, which means the bottle can become eye-catching for consumers.

Malcolm Waugh (pictured right), who joined the company in 2018 after 30 years in the paper-packaging industry, says: ‘Frugalpac was founded on a passion to reduce carbon, the biggest impact on our planet’s health today, and ensure that our materials can be easily recycled again.’

An independent analysis by Intertek found the Frugal Bottle had a carbon footprint up to six times (84 per cent) lower than a glass bottle, and more than a third less than a bottle made from recycled plastic. The bottle is also five times lighter than the glass alternative.

The bottle, which can be produced at a similar price to a labelled glass bottle, was designed and developed at the company’s innovation centre in Ipswich.

The first wine to go on sale in the bottle was a Sangiovese red from the Italian vineyard Cantina Goccia. ‘It proved to be so popular it completely sold out its run of bottles twice,’ says Waugh. ‘One wine chain, WoodWinters in Scotland, sold its whole stock in just one day.’

Cantina Goccia now intends to make paper bottles a permanent fixture of their range. ‘That’s a massive vote of confidence in what we’re doing,’ says Waugh.

Frugalpac’s business model is to create and supply machines for wine producers and packaging companies to allow them to manufacture Frugal Bottles on site, reducing the carbon emissions from the transportation of glass bottles to bottling facilities.

‘We want to play our part in helping to decarbonise packaging for the food and drink industry,’ says Waugh. ‘The key to ensure sustainable packaging technology becomes the norm is to license it to as many packaging and co-packing companies as possible around the world so it can be sited locally to reduce carbon emissions even further.’

The company was recently praised by the government’s Department for International Trade’s ‘GREAT Britain’ campaign as one of the UK organisations ‘doing incredible things to help build a global sustainable future’ in the run up to COP26.

‘Since launching last June, we have received over 1,000 enquiries for more than 70 million Frugal Bottles and 35 machine platforms,’ says Waugh. In the next few months, Frugal Bottles will launch with two Spanish wine brands, an English wine producer, a Scottish gin manufacturer and a US wine brand, and a Greek olive oil company.

Waugh adds: ‘We’re convinced the paper bottle market will open up whole new supply chains for recycled paper suppliers, print shops and packaging companies, and revitalise the industry.

‘We believe the demand is there. The cause is true and the time is now. We’re saving the planet one bottle at a time!’

This article first appeared in the May/June issue of Circular magazine. 

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