Ribena begins paper straw trial

New straw: hours of consumer testing to combat issues like sogginess
New straw: hours of consumer testing to combat issues like sogginess

Ribena has teamed with Transcend Packaging to develop a bendable paper straw for its juice cartons – the first major juice brand to do so.

The paper straws are being trialled at Tesco.

The move is part of a raft of environmental initiatives by Ribena owner Suntory Beverage & Food Great Britain and Ireland (SBF GB&I).

“Developing a bendable, durable paper straw, hasn’t been easy but recycling it should be. We’ve conducted hours of consumer testing to make sure our new paper straws can puncture the carton, that they don’t become soggy, and that Ribena lovers enjoy the feel of sipping from them,” said Jo Padwick, business transformation manager at Suntory.

“Now that they’re on shelf in Tesco we can gather even more feedback before rolling the straws out more widely.”

SBF GB&I currently uses some 40m plastics straws a year, the equivalent of 16 tonnes by weight. If the switch to paper proves successful it could “eliminate a piece of plastic packaging that often goes unrecycled” the company stated.

Caerphilly-based Transcend Packaging lays claim to being the European leader in paper straw production, and also makes paper straws for McDonald’s.

CEO Lorenzo Angelucci commented: “After many months of development and a rigorous testing process, we are pleased to bring to market a bendable paper straw that provides a sustainable option for drinks cartons.

“Transcend would like to congratulate Ribena for being the first UK-based drinks brand to introduce a paper straw to its drink cartons and feel it is a natural extension of their commitment toward sustainability and innovation.”

Padwick also called for local authorities to work with brands to ensure cartons and straws are recycled more, in order for brands like Ribena to achieve the goal of “full circularity”.

“Currently only 65% of local authorities collect cartons from household waste which is why we’re welcoming national governments’ moves to introduce consistency in household recycling collections,” she stated.

James Bull, head of packaging at Tesco said the supermarket was working with its suppliers to reduce packaging, and to make sure that what was left was recyclable and recycled.

“It’s vital that all products become recyclable as quickly as possible, so we’re delighted that Ribena are redesigning the packaging on sale in our stores and cutting down on hard to recycle plastics,” he said.

Ribena will use on-pack messaging to communicate the change. SBF GB&I is also working with Transcend to develop a hygienic wrapper from alternative materials “that will stand up to the rigours of rucksacks and refrigerators”.

Back in 2007 Ribena became the first UK drinks brand to make bottles from 100% recycled plastic.

It has also switched to 100% recycled board for the trays used to deliver Ribena squash concentrate bottles and Ribena cartons.