Anora - BiB packaging
Anora - BiB packaging

Leading in climate-smart packaging

Anora is the market leader in the sustainable packaging of wines and spirits in the Nordics. Packaging design and development plays an important role in Anora’s operations, given that we bottle over 130 million litres of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages every year. Good packaging design can reduce waste and carbon dioxide emissions significantly, helping us lessen the environmental impact of our products.

Anora invests heavily in product development and life-cycle thinking. The company’s efforts in sustainable packaging design and innovations are especially pioneering. Our goals are to ensure our all our packaging is recyclable and increase the use of more climate-friendly materials and recycled content.

Packaging design for the environment

Good packaging design can achieve substantial reductions in waste and carbon dioxide emissions. Alternative, and lighter, materials are used to an increasing degree and, for example, the weight of glass bottles is being reduced. This reduces the carbon footprint resulting from the bottles’ manufacturing and transport to a significant degree.

Over the past few years, Anora has increasingly shifted from glass bottles to the use of alternative packaging materials, such as fully recyclable PET plastic bottles. With a 60–80% lower carbon footprint compared to glass bottles, our innovative PET bottles and recyclable Bag-in-Boxes offer better options for the environment and are at the core of Anora’s packaging strategy.

The plastic materials used by Anora have been selected according to the storage life requirements of the packaged content, taking into consideration production equipment as well as recycling and environmental issues. The plastic materials in the bottles have been approved for contact with foodstuffs which, in practice, means that they are carefully controlled, starting from their source materials.

rPET: plastic recycled from bottle to bottle

The carbon footprint of a bottle made of PET plastic can be only 40% of the footprint of a similar glass bottle. The reduction comes from the manufacturing process, the amount of plastic mass used and the energy consumed in manufacturing, and also from the efficiency of the logistics chain, for example. With rPET (where "r" stands for recycled), the carbon footprint is even smaller.

In 2020, Anora launched the first spirits bottles containing 25% rPET plastic. We aim to increase the share of rPET to 50% by the year 2025 and to a full 100% by 2030. This pace exceeds the requirements and schedules outlined by the EU.

We have conducted thorough background work concerning the implementation of rPET plastic. For example, we have carried out research into such factors as the availability, quality and suitability of raw material. In addition, we needed to find a reliable raw material supplier and build a new, well-functioning delivery chain for rPET bottles.

Packages stamped with sustainability

During 2021, Altia will be adding new sustainability labels to its packages to help consumers in making increasingly responsible choices.

25% rPET marking

Polyethylene terephthalate, i.e. PET, is a food-safe thermoplastic used particularly in the packaging industry. Beverage bottles and ovenproof plastic dishes, for example, are often made from PET. PET plastic is wear resistant and easy to recycle, almost endlessly. Moreover, thanks to its light weight and raw material manufacturing technology, PET plastic has a smaller carbon footprint than glass or other heavier materials.

Anora's PET spirits bottles that contain 25% of recycled rPET plastic can be identified by the special label on the packaging. The recycled plastic used in the bottles comes from PET bottles returned by consumers. To ensure the safety and high quality of the material, Anora sources its rPET material from well-known markets and treats it by using a process of the highest quality standard.

Chill Out rPET

In spring 2021, Anora launched the first wine bottle made completely of recycled PET plastic. As with the rPET bottles for spirits, the recycled material comes from plastic bottles returned by consumers against the deposit. Coloured rPET bottles can be returned by using the same recycling system as the colourless ones, so this material will be available for reuse.

The first product line to be packed in the new rPET bottles is Anora's Chill Out wine family. A sustainability indicator referring to the bottle type will be added to the wine labels.

100% rPET Chill Out

Bag-in-box (BiB) containers consist of several different materials: the cardboard box, wine bag, and the plastic tap and handle. The overall environmental impacts of BiB containers are already smaller than those of the traditional glass bottle, but the combination of various materials makes the packaging difficult to recycle from the consumer’s perspective.

In cooperation with its partners, Anora has developed a new 3-litre BiB container in which the wine bag, tap and handle have been refined in terms of materials and colours so that they are more suitable for recycling. The valve of the tap is red, but other elements are colourless, making them recycling compatible. The wine bag does not include metalling, aluminium or nylon, which means that it too can be disposed of as plastic waste. In addition, the box will be made from materials obtained from FSC-certified, responsible sources. The BiB containers include recycling instructions. The aim is to utilise every component of the container through recycling.

The new, fully recyclable bag-in-box container has the sustainability label.

25% lighter glass bottles

Glass remains a common packaging material for alcoholic beverages, especially in the premium product category. Often, the bottles of high-quality brands contain a considerable amount of glass material, which increases their environmental load. Reducing the weight of the bottle also reduces its carbon footprint.

Anora aims to make its glass bottles lighter in conjunction with packaging reforms and to increase the use of recycled glass. The new sustainability label on glass bottles indicates how much lighter it is compared to the previous bottle design. For example, a life cycle analysis conducted on O.P. Anderson Aquavit indicated that reducing the weight of a 0.35-litre glass bottle from 300 grams to 220 grams would reduce its emissions by 16% during the product’s life cycle.

A bottle’s journey

The new life of a glass or plastic deposit bottle begins with a clunk in the bowels of a reverse vending machines. After this, recycled glass bottles are crushed, cleaned and sorted according to their colour. They are reused in the production of glass wool or glass packaging, for example. Plastic deposit bottles are also returned to a reverse vending machine, from where they also go to crushing, cleaning and sorting for the manufacture and reuse of raw materials.

Cans, plastic bottles and some glass bottles have a marking that identifies them as deposit bottles. If there is no deposit marking, you can check whether a glass bottle can be returned from the receipt or a shelf label.

Glass and plastic deposit bottles (and metal cans) can be returned to reverse vending machines. The vending machine identifies the deposit from a bar code on the bottle's label, so in order to get the deposit back, the label must be intact. You will receive the receipt for your bottles from the machine you return them to.

Glass bottles with no deposit, both coloured and clear, should be taken to recycled glass containers. There is no need to sort them, just throw them in. The caps or corks do need to be removed, but the labels, metal skirts and any other fixed parts can remain where they are. Plastic bottles with no deposit, on the other hand, belong in plastic recycling or mixed waste.

Colourless plastic bottles return to service for example as preforms of new plastic bottles, or as raincoats. Coloured plastic bottles, on the other hand, can have a new life as back bags or neckties. There is no need to remove plastic caps, given that they are also recycled. And while most glass bottles are used for new bottles, some of the material can even end up in aerated concrete.

Anora’s new, fully recyclable bag-in-box containers are easy to recycle along with other sorted household waste. First, detach the tap from the wine bag, rinse the bag with cold water and sort the plastic components, including the box handle, to plastic recycling. The box can be put in a cardboard recycling bin.

Anora - bag-in-box wine at the seaside
Anora - bag-in-box wine at the seaside

Sustainable packaging choices for wine buyers: recycled PET plastic bottle and bag-in-box

Anora own wine brands are packed by Anora as close to the consumer as possible. This significantly reduces the carbon footprint of the products. Bag-in-box is the primary format of wine packaging in Anora’s production. It is also the most sustainable option. Whereas a traditional glass bottle weights 500–600 grams, the bag-in-box container, including the cardboard box and wine bag, weighs less than 140 grams. In addition, the typical glass bottle contains 75 cl of wine, but the typical size of a BiB container is three litres. One benefit of the glass bottle is better preservability. To offset this difference, wine bottles made from PET plastic feature an extra layer that prevents oxygen permeability.

In spring 2021, Anora introduced a wine bottle made fully from recycled PET plastic. The raw material of these bottles comes from plastic deposit bottles returned by consumers. Replacing the raw material with recycled material drastically shrinks the packaging's carbon footprint, as the burden of oil refining can be excluded.

The carbon footprint of glass packages can also be reduced by using recycled material and lightening the bottles’ weight. However, even the lighter glass bottle's carbon footprint is approximately 60% higher than that of a PET plastic bottle.

Recycle also small bottles

Let's not forget the small flasks

There is reason to be proud: The return rate of all bottles in Finland is among the highest in the world. A total of 93% of all purchased drink containers are returned. The return rate of plastic bottles is also high: 92% in 2020. But the statistics also reveal room for improvement. A particular dent in the statistics comes from small plastic bottles: several million bottles no larger than 35 cl get lost on the way, despite being deposit bottles.

Why is this? Anora decided to put this question to roughly a thousand adults in May 2019. Their responses revealed at least two things which drew our attention: unawareness of the recyclability of different bottle types, and the fact that while small PET bottles are easy to carry along, they are also easily left behind.

In spring 2019, Anora implemented a consumer campaign with the aim of increasing the recycling rate of all bottles but small bottles in particular. The successful campaign was repeated in the following year, and the results were even greater: The return rate of Anora's small PET bottles increased by an impressive 20% during the campaign.