Beverage Cans Made From Paperboard

Shatler's Caipirinha in a CartoCan

In June last year, I wrote that “the revolution in the bottling industry is on”. It seems to be working out that way, as recently we have seen some very interesting developments in beverage cans. No, not the well-known metal can, but beverage cans made from paperboard. These developments are pioneering in the aseptic can as well as in the paperboard packaging field.

After the, in Germany developed, Cartocan for 250ml energy drinks entered the market in 2010, a new Euro patent application (EP 2017178) emerged, relating to an identical drinks can made from paperboard. The third development, although not for beverages, but for motor oil, is from Sonoco UK.

Kirei no Susume, launched by Shiseido on July 21, 2010, is packaged in a Cartocan

Why these developments in paperboard cans for liquids? Beverage cans, traditionally made from metal, aluminium or tinplate, have become more expensive over the last years, whereas paperboard has remained consistently cheaper. But there is one more reason.
Paperboard cans are favoured by the European packaging laws. The paperboard can is classified as ‘Ecological Favourable Packaging’, a German typification in its “packaging laws”, which add 25 eurocents (a refundable packaging tax deposit) to the price of all metal cans sold by beverage resellers.

It is not surprising of course that all three are European developments. In the USA we don’t see a packaging tax, refundable or not, to protect the environment and stimulate recycling, and consequently we don’t see, as we see in Europe, the implementation of ‘packaging laws’ stimulating developments of more environmental friendly packaging formats.

Let’s have a detailed look at these three paperboard beverage cans.

The Composite Can
Paperboard hollow bodies aren’t new. Since ages we use the convulgated winded paperboard cans or tubes as we call them, but never for beverages. We all know the composite can or paperboard can used for dry products and sometimes for pastes, such as creams, balms and oil-based products.

The EcoPak made by Chicago Paper Tube & Can Co Inc

Although often seen as a simple packaging format for simple products (see my post: “EcoPak and Ecocentric – What’s in a Name?” ). there are some examples of brilliant design using the composite can in the upscale market. One of these examples is the Biznaga range of Spanish Gourmet specialties.

The composite can or paperboard can or tube is mostly a round container comprised of a body with two ends made from a variety of materials. The packaging can be produced in many shapes and sizes. The container body is made from paper, and various liner materials to achieve barrier requirements and often completed with a printed label for packaging graphics.

The CartoCan
The new paperboard can, which is made by Michael Hörauf Maschinenfabrik GmbH in Donzdorf / Germany and marketed under the brand name Cartocan, is a highly innovative and brand-appropriate take on the ubiquitous 250ml energy metal drink cans.
CartoCan is the new, high-quality packaging alternative to the tinplate and aluminium can. The slim, cylindrical, trendy format permits a clear positioning of the product at the point of sale.

With the CartoCan, as packaging format, Michael HörAuf offers a complete system for packaging production, sterilization and filling of beverages and food with a shelf life of 12 months. In addition to the aseptic filling of the CartoCan, the company ensures that the mild heat treatment retains the taste, texture, aroma and colour of the product as it undergoes, it claims, optimal processing.

Wood fibre is under ecological conditions a natural renewable and recyclable raw material. The properties of the material along with the environmentally friendly manufacturing and recycling process ensure that the CartoCan supports a brand’s environmental policies.
The CartoCan can be filled with from flavoured milk drinks to tea, from fruit juices to energy drinks.

Full system supplier IPI s.r.l. in Perugia/Italy is one of the system partners for CartoCan and provides the material, which is especially developed for this product. This ensures a full compatibility between equipment and material.

The multi-layer structure is designed in order to produce a protective barrier for the products to be filled. Its structural integrity guarantees preservation of the contents of the product during its entire shelf-life.

Cartocan cans (capacity 200 to 250 ml) feature carton barrier laminates (aluminium or EVOH layers inside and outside are optional), flexographic printing, sleeve material printed in 5 colours, and a wide choice of designs.
Cartocan can be recycled in the same manner as milk cartons.

The Keienburg Paperboard Can
Recently a new Euro patent application (EP 2017178 in German) emerged, relating to an identical drinks can made from paperboard. There is not yet an official brand name available for this can, so I call it, for the time being, after the inventor Günther Keienburg.

Let’s first look at the abstract of EP 2017178 (A2): “The casing comprises a parallelly coiled layer of cellulose-containing material in the form of cardboard and/or pasteboard, and a liquid-proof functional layer. An inner casing surface facing content of the container includes an ethylene-vinyl alcohol copolymer barrier layer with a weight of 10 grams per meter square. A container wall includes a four layer sulphate cardboard with a weight of 250 grams per meter square. The material comprises polyethylene and polyamide coatings”.

It’s a development of Keienburg Agentur für Verpackung GmbH in Rhauderfehn / Germany, which, alongside the cans, offers production units to erect the can body. This gives drinks manufacturers the ability to make the paperboard cans at source, eliminating the high costs for transportation and storage of empty metal cans.
To produce the cardboard can only board reels and can tops and ends are delivered to the fillers. One reel of 4 feet diameter and 0.5 feet width is equivalent to 4.000 cans. The production units offered by Keienburg are said to be capable of producing in excess of 40,000 paperboard cans every single hour.
Currently used filling lines only need simple modifications to process the paperboard cans as standard aluminium pull up can tops are used. This newly introduced production system is said to save up to 30% of the production costs.

The difference between the Cartoncan and the Keienburg can is that the Cartoncan uses an adhesive tape to cover and close the drinking hole in the paperboard top of the can, while Keienburg uses the standard original metal can ends, creating an almost identical beverage can as we know it. This difference in can construction is important as the Keienburg can is designed for carbonised beverages, just like its metal carbon copy.

The Sonoco rigid paperboard can for motor oils
Last month Sonoco, the world’s oldest and largest producer of paperboard cans, also entered, via its UK subsidiary, the market of paperboard cans for liquids. However not for beverages as the former two, but for motor oils.

Sonoco’s solution was a rigid paper container with metal ends that offers the same product appearance and protection for liquids, but at a lower cost and using far more sustainable materials. According to Sonoco, the screw-top, paperboard can is durable enough to last the required product’s four year shelf life.
Furthermore the company claims that the rigid paper container demonstrates significant economic and environmental improvements in its life cycle assessment when compared to the steel can that is generally used in the motor oil market. Not only does it result in a 27% reduction in material weight inputs and reduces the customer’s shipping and handling costs, it also results in a 34% reduction in energy inputs, a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and a 2% reduction in chemical bad actors.

The Future
Now start thinking. Use your imagination.
Some months ago I wrote about the new Evero Aseptic paperboard bottle from Tetra. Although I think Sonoco is using its convulgated winded paperboard tubes, cutting them in the required sizes, HörAuf and Keienburg are rolling a paperboard sheet in a similar way as Tetra is doing for its Evero.

The Keienburg can uses aluminium ends as are commonly used for 3-piece metal tins. Tetra is using a plastic shoulder/neck which is glued into the paperboard body.
You can see that the Keyenburg paperboard can assembled with a shoulder/neck piece, results in a paperboard can with an aluminium or plastic bottom end and a shoulder/neck, emerging into a full bottle with screw cap facility.

Compare also the development of the Aisa can, I wrote about in my article “Tetra Evero Aseptic and AisaCan – The Revolution of Multi-Material Bottles”

A fascinating evolution in beverage bottles and cans is awaiting us.

Note: I couldn’t find a website of Keienburg, But for those interested here is the full address:  Keienburg Agentur für Verpackung GmbH, Rajen 21, 26817 Rhauderfehn, Germany.

16 responses to “Beverage Cans Made From Paperboard

  1. Fascinating innovation, but it seems to be just exploiting a loophole in the packaging tax system. Is it really environmentally preferable to aluminum cans? Or just cheaper and therefore fiscally preferable for the manufacturers? Either way, if it becomes popular, I would imagine that the European tax system will catch on. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing! Your blog is awesome.

    • Jennifer, that’s a very good question. It wasn’t intended to be a loophole, as paper products in general are seen as more environmental friendly than alu or steel. The mining industry is not famous for its ‘green’ approach. Forestry is, in these days anyway (not here in the Amazon delta by the way).
      In Europe, in contrast to the USA in general, refundable packaging (beer bottles, PET bottles etc) are a common good. The laws intended to create the same situation for metal cans. However the supermarkets and retailers couldn’t get enthused for this extra (non paying) activity it involved. That’s why sales of beverages in cans dropped by some 25% as supermarkets took the beverage can from the shelves. With that they created the opening for the development of the paperboard can. It certainly will balance out in the future.

      • Agreed, Jennifer has a good point to be made about the loop hole, that will eventually be covered and probably closed.

        Another thought is that motor oil use to come in 3 piece spiral paper tube cans. Way back when a mechanic had to use a screwdriver or “can key” to get the oil out. I’m sure that more sophisticated access methods could be used now, as seen in the picture. Thinking some, the 3 piece cans would start leaking if they sat too long or were damaged. So, nothing new here.

        The most outstanding concern is the multi-layer construction of the paper cans and the methods to recycle or reuse them. Aluminum cans have made great inroads into the glass market over the past 10 years by replacing the much heavier glass containers, of which both are readily recyclable. Aluminum has one of the greatest percentages of recycling of the beverage container market with PET and glass being the others.

        Has the recycling process of these containers been contemplated? If the answer is yes and the answer includes the same solution as the current milk, broth and beverage brick-pack then my response is to leave it alone. There are other better suited materials for fluids. If my suspicions are true, then we as an industry must take the lead to using solutions that increase ease of use, reuse or recycling. Not making things harder to do.

      • Warren, there is no problem, whatsoever with recycling paperboard cans or milk cartons for that matter. The problem is the selective collection of waste. When you read my articles about recycling paperboard (alu+pe) packages, you can start your own business. Recycling is based on selective collection. Glass or alu isn’t recyclable as long as you don’t collect. I should say collect and start recycling.

  2. we make this kind of paper bottle a great many,for small one ,it is easier to make,but for big one,it is not so easy.You know if too big ,it is easy to be out of shape,and if you use thicker material,it will be more difficult to roll roundly.
    Any way,if your have needs or interests,welcome to send me an email(

  3. I like the concept. The only worry that I have is the consumption of paper products. We are already stretching our paper and wood resources thin. How can we incorporate this idea and still preserve the few remaining forests in the world that are being cut down for paper production? If you can figure that out it would be a huge step leap in the environmental and sustainable direction. What about using other paper-like products such as hemp or bamboo. They are more sustainable and can be grown and harvested many times throughout a year rather than taking several years to wait for harvesting, as with trees. Just a thought.

    I really like the recycling idea though. I think it’s something that has not been utilized in the US and needs to be. Some states on the East coast do it, but most don’t and should. Agai great ideas. I look forward to seeing how it develops.

  4. Thanks ANTON. For sure an innovative solution for beverages but 2 questions: this new can is it recyclable when it’s empty ?? and what is the carbon foot print of this new can composition in comparison with the metal’ ones ?.
    ” green ” image using carton is not enough so what is the reality ?. All the best.Thierry

    • Thierry, as I state in my article the paperboard cans can be recycled as milk packs (Tetra, SIG etc). The development is too new to have available a realistic carbon foot print (Keienburg isn’t even in the market yet). Grosso modo, you can see that the footprint is identical to that of the milk or juice packs with the same size. Furthermore the mining industry isn’t well-known for its environmental behaviour, and proper forestry management solved the that problem with green certificates. As said it is only the beginning of a new era for beverage cans. Still a lot to be done.

  5. Hello i have seen your packaging and i am interested in this idea as i havent seen this idea in the uk before would like to get in contact with your company regarding this matter could you please leve me an email address. thanks

    • Sorry, but I am not a manufacturer, but just a writer. Contact the company as mentioned in my article, click the link and you find all the info you need. By the way the paperboard can is recently introduced in the UK by a beverage company.

  6. Pingback: Developments in Wine Packaging – 02 | Best In Packaging·

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