Introduction by: Peter Marshall

Last year, Quintessential Brands-owned Greenall’s Gin introduced a paper bottle that it says reduces its carbon footprint six times over. So, is it cutting it with consumers – and do the numbers stack up? Our new contributor to, Kristiane Sherry, unwraps the new bottle.

When Greenall’s launched its paper bottle in late 2022, it seemed to answer an urgent creative challenge. How to present a spirits brand in a practical, robust, yet attractive way that also meets sustainability goals?

Enter stage left: FrugalPac. The UK-based packaging supplier claims its star product is the biggest innovation in wine and spirits since the creation of the glass bottle. The Frugal Bottle was the chosen partner for Greenall’s seismic launch. Made from 94% recycled paperboard, it houses a food-grade pouch to safely hold the spirit.

Its vital stats are indeed remarkable. The bottle is five times lighter than a regular glass counterpart, with a carbon footprint six times lower. Even its water use is reduced, requiring just a quarter of that of conventional glass. Add it all up and the FrugalPac Greenall’s bottle has a carbon footprint of 91.9kg/CO2e per bottle, compared to 558.2kg/CO2e for glass. It’s fully recyclable, too.

What does this mean to consumers? In short, most likely not a lot. General understanding around carbon accounting and assessment is low. It’s so complex that many companies get stuck, let alone consumers. Factor in notions around what ‘premium’ and ‘luxury’ packaging should be, and the friction point becomes clear. Are consumers willing to substitute their well-adopted shiny glass for a worthy cardboard alternative?

Durability vs. desirability

After seeing the Greenall’s cardboard bottle on display behind the bar at a recent festival, I felt compelled to put it through its paces. How does it fit together? How durable is it? How ‘luxurious’ does it feel? And how easy is it to use and recycle? Simply, is the user experience as good as glass? Quintessential Brands kindly sent me a bottle to test out. So I did, and asked a cohort of non-drinks industry friends for their thoughts, too.

First of all, it survived the delivery remarkably well, considering the courier’s box did not. There was only very minor damage to the neck and base (see images), despite the complete collapse of the transit packaging.

These small scuffs wouldn’t be off-putting for a home-bar bottle. Would I gift it in this condition? I am hesitant. With gifting such a significant purchase driver in travel retail, and how likely scuffing in hand-luggage would be, I am concerned. (Let’s not forget, gifting is on the rise in eCommerce, too.)

Onto the design. It’s surprisingly pleasing to the eye. I like the way the paper folds around the bottle neck, like jigsaw puzzle pieces falling into place. The branding is prominent. The copy is on the busy side, but the messaging is clear. With such a new concept, recycling instructions are essential. The less cluttered front keeps a premium feel, too.

But does it feel ‘luxurious’? There’s an argument that, priced at around £18 a bottle, it doesn’t need to (more on that shortly). Personally? The environmental gains and the inherent novelty more than offset the need for the prestige factor. I am impressed – and I think green-minded friends would be, too.

A huge upside is the dramatically reduced risk of breakage. I squeeze, crush, drop, even step on the bottle and it keeps the precious gin safe from harm. There have been many times where a liquor bottle has come to a sad end smashed and splattered across a terminal floor. No such risk from this Greenall’s Gin iteration – although the bottle does become increasingly scuffed. Take a quick look at the video now where I tried and tested the bottle.


‘I love the ambition’

What, then, do those outside of the industry think? “I love the ambition,” one tells me. “I think that all brands, especially the larger ones, should be setting the bar in terms of sustainability,” she adds. It’s a relief that responsibility is being taken, rather than the onus falling onto consumers. “But as much as I love the ambition, the bottle looks like a mock-up.”

A self-proclaimed gin lover said he prefers bottles that “look fancy”, but he wouldn’t be put off by paper. “I’d just be less likely to buy it as a gift.” Another had a different concern: “It just weirdly looks less obvious that it’s alcohol?” she suggested.

“It doesn’t look like it’s worth £18,” another stated. It’s a stark reminder that the arbitrary price point brands we often speak of really are relative when it comes to individual consumers.

Despite the 100% recyclability claims, a collective concern was that the inner pouch would be hard to recycle. “I don’t know where my nearest plastic bag collection point is!” Even with detailed on-bottle instructions, it seems recycling infrastructure remains a barrier to sustainability.

“We know there is much more we need to do, so we are creating a roadmap for the brand that will lead us to reduce our carbon emissions to net-zero,” Russell Smith, Global Brand Lead for Greenall’s, said as the product launched. It seems the paper bottle is just the start.

Back at the festival where I first spotted the bottle, and Charlotte Bucher, Senior Brands Activation Manager at Quintessential Brands, confirmed plans were in place to continue rolling out the paper bottles. It seems the battle to be won here is not corporate will, but consumer perceptions of what sustainable spirits packaging can be. Who has responsibility for seeing that shift? Surely that’s the biggest question posed by the paper bottle.


Peter Marshall

Founder: Arts
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