The philosophy behind Botany’s One Drop Brewing Co is simple: to inspire widespread change using a single action, just like the ripple effect in water caused by an individual drop. At the core of their values is sustainability, and they way they’re inspiring change is through the development of a unique packaging solution for cases of their beer.
What sets this packaging apart is that it’s fully recyclable – there’s no glue, wax or tape used to hold the box together. Rather, it relies on a "fold & hold" design of cardboard flaps to keep everything in place. What’s more, the box is essentially recycled already, using third generation recycled cardboard, and the ink is also bio-friendly.
The idea for the packaging initially came from Nick Calder-Scholes, One Drop’s head brewer, who worked on iterations of the design with the producer, Josh Searle of Phoenix Packaging, based on the Central Coast.
“We wanted something that was totally recyclable, just like our cans,” Nick says. “To have the most sustainable package possible, with the least amount of impact on the environment.”
The entire process, from conceptualisation to adoption, took around two years. The hardest part was finding a supplier who was willing to spend enough time and effort to make the idea a reality – and at an affordable price.
“Josh really engaged with the concept of our brewery and our project, and why we wanted to do it,” Nick says. “It wasn’t us trying to push this concept, rather he really saw what we were trying to do. We went over and over, back and forth, talking about materials, inks, construction, and so on.”
The result is an origami-style box with two flaps on opposite sides, that fold inward and slot between rows of cans.
“Essentially, the weight of the cans and the distance between them holds the two flaps in place, which creates a solid box. Then, the height of the box [which is the height of the cans] creates stability from the top. We wanted to utilise the can for structural integrity, which helped us save on certain amount of cardboard.”
One of the biggest problems to solve was to how to keep the cardboard box from breaking apart once it became wet from condensation.
“We had problems with that with the first prototype,” Nick says, laughing. “We put it in the fridge, took it out like you would at home or at a bottleshop, and, because the cans had condensation, they all just fell out the bottom.”
The solution to that was to use a small amount of first-use board, which is still recyclable, but adds the structural integrity needed to keep the box intact.
Aside from its recyclability, the packaging also has a few other advantages. Because no tape or glue seal needs to be broken to open it, there’s no stray flap to deal with, and the box can easily be closed again.
Nick and the team entered the box in the packaging category at the recent AIBAs, pulling a bronze for the design (as well as gold medals for their Botany Bay Lager, XPA and Blueberry Sour). They also scored the highest points awarded out of all entrants for the “environment” section of the judging.
As for whether other breweries can use the design, Nick says that question has already been asked a few times.
“We tell them to go straight to Josh,” he says. “He helped us and he has the means to make it.
“But, if other breweries want to use it, that’s fine. We’re really proud of it, and the whole idea is to save the planet, after all.”