When it comes to reusables targeting consumers, engagement is critical. There is a lot that goes into customer acceptance. It ranges from the right sound when you pop the top, to scuffs on reusable bottles, or the ability to get a clear view of the brew through the container.
Simon Hoffmeyer Boas, Sustainability Director at Carlsberg, shared some interesting thoughts recently with Sustainable Brands. He emphasised that sustainable change can only happen through collaboration. “As a company we could create the most sustainable packaging in the world but if consumers throw it away in the wrong place it won’t be genuinely sustainable.”
“Unfortunately, you can’t simply edit out the higher-impact options. We know from our LCA that our refillable bottle is more environmentally friendly than our single-use bottles. However, in a fancy nightclub consumers will reject a bottle that has scuffs or scratches from multiple uses. If we try to force that change on them, they’ll simply buy something else.”
Given the need to provide a range of containers for different segments of the beer market, Carlsberg endeavours to reduce the environmental impact of all its bottles. The company also has employed elements of gamification, such as placing flags on recycling bins at international sports events to promote a friendly rivalry.
When it comes to the Green Fibre (cellulose) bottle initiative, Hoffmeyer Boas admits that if Carlsberg were just to simply launch the new container, there would be push-back.
“With the Green Fibre project, our obvious concern is that an opaque bottle could make some consumers uneasy, so we’ve been working on ways to make the bottle more appealing,” commented Hoffmeyer Boas. “We know from previous conversations with consumers that if we could design a bottle that better insulated their beer, which wood fibre does, then that would be an attractive selling point.”
By framing the fibre bottle in a positive light, the exercise moves beyond purely environmental motivations to engage a broader range of consumers in a conversation about sustainability. It will take some effort to reach the right audience with the right message. Sustainable packaging is good, and for some, colder beer is even better.