Mon, Jan 31, 2011 - Page 6 News List

UK-based inventor launches papier-mache milk bottle

GOING GREEN:A chat in the pub with a man who runs the local landfill led to the inventor thinking about how the problematic plastic bottle could be replaced

The Guardian, LONDON

A UK-based inventor believes he may have found the answer to Britain’s rapidly developing landfill crisis.

Each day, about 15 million plastic bottles are used in the UK, many ending up on the country’s burgeoning waste mountains. And as the average plastic bottle takes 500 years to decompose, this legacy will have an impact on generations to come.

However, inspired by a papier-mache balloon that his son made at school, Martin Myerscough, from Suffolk, believes he has come up with the answer. The GreenBottle, which looks remarkably like the conventional two-liter plastic bottles on supermarket shelves, comprises a sturdy paper shell with a plastic liner to keep the milk fresh.

Once the lining is ripped out, the paper shell can be quickly flattened and recycled up to seven times — plastic bottles can be recycled only once. Alternatively, the paper bottle can be turned into compost within a matter of several weeks.

The bottle has been trialed at Asda supermarket stores in eastern England and a national roll-out across the firm’s chain will start this week.

Myerscough dreamed up the idea for GreenBottle after talking to a man in his local pub.

“A chap I row with was running the local landfill, so I asked him what was the main problem and he said plastic bottles, especially milk bottles, and that set me thinking,” Myerscough said.

Recalling his son’s efforts with papier-mache, Myerscough played around with several designs before coming up with a prototype.

Currently, 1,000 two-liter bottles are supplied to shops around Suffolk and Myerscough claims customers have been “overwhelmingly positive.”

There are plans to make the next generation of bottles entirely from paper and to sell products to other industries, such as detergent and shampoo manufacturers.

Asda’s decision to introduce the bottles nationally should help bring costs of production down.

“The price is the same as a plastic bottle,” Myerscough said. “Our target is to be competitive with plastic bottle.”

He claims that the production of each GreenBottle has a significantly lower carbon footprint than that of a plastic one, even though the paper cases are made in Turkey.

He conceded there were already greener alternatives to plastic bottles, such as pouches, but he said some supermarkets had withdrawn them because customers found them unwieldly.

“Our product is more mainstream,” Myerscough said. “The way the consumer uses the bottle is identical to a plastic bottle.”

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