'Wonderful,' amazing,' and many other superlatives came to me just now, as I read this piece in The Guardian. Slowly, surely, there is light at the end of a very dark trunnel? There is now
an alternative to the ubiquitous plastic bottle, and it's about to hit a supermarket near you!
A Suffolk-based inventor believes he may have found the answer to Britain's rapidly developing landfill crisis.
Each day some 15m 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.
But now, inspired by a papier-mache balloon that his son made at school, Martin Myerscough believes he has come up with the answer. The GreenBottle, which looks remarkably like the conventional two-litre 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 trialled at Asda stores in East Anglia and a national roll-out across the supermarket chain will start this week, beginning in Cornwall.
Myerscough dreamt 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."
Recalling his son's efforts with papier-mache, Myerscough played around with several designs before coming up with a prototype.
Currently 1,000 two-litre 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 bottles."
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 currently 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."
Here is a BBC news report about the bottles: