Ecologic Brands Paper Bottle

The Ecologic Paper Bottle is a sustainable packaging solution consisting of a molded paper shell and a thin plastic liner that is intended to hold mass-market liquid laundry detergent. The bottle’s iconic paper aesthetic communicates its environmental attributes and is very comfortable to touch and use. The outer shell comprises 70 percent of the bottle’s weight and is formed from 100 percent post-consumer paper fiber. The lightweight recyclable plastic inside the pouch uses up to 75 percent less plastic than rigid containers. Once the bottle is empty, the user separates the outside paper shell from the inside plastic liner. The shell is recyclable as paper or compost, and the liner is recyclable as plastic.

The initial Ecologic idea was a bottle made of two components: a thin liner and a paper structure. Out of that a simple, separable assembly was created. Developing appropriate design solutions to meet physical performance requirements was critical to the bottle’s success, and the product’s identity was worked into the performance features. Pulp thermoforming was selected for robustness and water resistance. The bottle’s surfaces were crowned, and the profile was arched to add strength and improve impact. Addressing capping torque without glue resulted in a visible interlock at the spout and shell. And the design was developed to accommodate natural dimensional variations. Because the empty pouch and outer shells nest densely, one truckload of Ecologic packaging is equivalent to nine truckloads of rigid packaging.

Moving from concept to high-volume production was a challenge to the industry status quo. The detergent co-packing infrastructure fills rigid plastic bottles, but with minor adjustment can fill the Ecologic bottle. Pulp molders produce independent parts, such as disposable plates and bowls, and are not used to contributing to an assembly. Pouch manufacturers use mixed material film to create stiff stand-up pouches, which sacrifice recyclability. Leveraging these attributes was challenging, especially to maintain tolerances and pouch flexibility. The design team also had to ensure that the bottle is easily separable by users. Surviving a logistics chain geared to rigid plastic challenged designers to truly understand the design and step up their game throughout development.

Strong sales of the bottle have helped it meet its ambitious first-year revenue goals. The Ecologic bottle has helped Seventh Generation, the largest green cleaning products company in US, gain market share and build brand value. Seventh Generation launched a new 4-times concentrated detergent using the Ecologic bottle in the natural grocery channel in March 2011. The company’s liquid laundry sales in the natural channel are up over 17 percent since launch. This visibly different tactile bottle has helped strengthen the emotional bond between the Seventh Generation brand and its consumers.

Credits: DW Product Development Inc., Romeo Graham, Rob Watters, Mike Sirois, Ecologic Brands Inc. and Julie Corbett
Contact: Rob Watters: robw@dwcanada.com