Cullen has the bottle for success

THE sustainable aesthetic of Cullen’s award-winning Fibre Bottle is becoming an increasing draw for brands alongside the container’s green credentials, the Glasgow-headquartered firm has told Packaging Scotland.

Recent studies have indicated that consumers are increasingly opting for products packaged in sustainable solutions, with Smurfit Kappa’s February findings revealing 57% are less likely to buy products packed in ‘harmful’ packaging, whilst Productsup’s global 2022 study showed 67% are more likely to buy an item if the sustainable credentials of its packaging are made clear.

Cullen’s Fibre Bottle has soared in popularity since its launch in 2022. Made from moulded fibre, the product is 100% plastic-free and is an alternative to plastic bottles and pouches for dry goods. Available in different sizes and colours, it is manufactured in the UK using recycled kraft paper and water.

Speaking to Packaging Scotland from Cullen’s busy stand at Packaging Innovations and Empack 2024, Maureen Stevenson, head of marketing and business development, told how the Fibre Bottle was attracting interest from a wide range of visitors, alongside Cullen’s corrugate and moulded fibre offerings and its capabilities in replacing single-use plastics in just six weeks.

“Our moulded fibre products are made from recycled waste from our corrugate facility,” she said. “They are incredibly robust, with a rustic look that clearly conveys their sustainability.

“It is important, especially when you’re looking at fibre bottles, that they are truly a sustainable alternative; there are options in the market that are either not completely plastic-free or very much in the early stages of development or prototyping.”

Admitting that timing is key to the success of sustainable products, Maureen explained that the market must be ready for such solutions.

“Demand for our paper based packaging is at an all-time high; this is because sustainability is such a big focus; we’re inundated with enquiries because we have proven solutions and at the scale needed,” she continued.

In the last two years, Cullen has manufactured over one billion plastic-free products for clients spanning 35 countries – supplying sectors such as medical, produce, industrial, all major supermarkets, high street coffee shop chains, retail, and more. Last year, the business commenced a £15 million expansion of its Glasgow base.

“We’re constantly innovating and have increased our manufacturing capabilities, with even more capacity growth in the pipeline,” Maureen said. “This allows us to continually produce more, which is essential to making a real impact on the single-use plastic waste challenge. You need to be able to provide solutions at scale.”

The firm is not just focusing on manufacturing more products, but also increasing the range of products and sectors it operates in. The constantly expanding design and engineering team has been key to this, with Cullen having the capability to design and manufacture a bespoke packaging solution from scratch in only six weeks.

“We can take what customers are already using and re-design it using moulded fibre, taking into account the functionality required from their packaging and align this with their sustainable goals, creating a viable, cost effective, completely bespoke alternative,” Maureen stated. “Our in-house engineers can build bespoke moulded fibre machines and tooling to create solutions from a holistic perspective from start to finish.”

Cullen CEO David MacDonald was recently named EY Entrepreneur of the Year, UK Transformational Leader, and listed as one of Britain’s top 50 most ambitious business leaders by LDC, part of the Lloyds Banking Group. Revealing that he empowers the team to ‘think differently, think big’, Maureen said his entrepreneurial mindset acts as a real driver.

“The opportunities for growth are endless as we continue to meet the rapidly growing demand for sustainable packaging. With constant investment in our operations and our team Cullen have the proven sustainable packaging solutions for today and are innovating and creating the solutions for the future.”

Since the time of the interview with Packaging Scotland, Cullen has been nominated for the Earthshot Prize for its Fibre Bottle innovation.

The Earthshot Prize sets out five universal goals to meet by 2030: Protect and Restore Nature, Clean our Air, Revive our Oceans, Build a Waste-Free World, and Fix our Climate. Each year a Top 150 is whittled down to just five winners which are each awarded £1 million to help scale their solution.

Cullen’s Fibre Bottle was nominated in the Waste-Free World category, which aims to ‘build a world where nothing goes to waste, where the leftovers of one process become the raw materials of the next – just like they do in nature’.

CEO David MacDonald said, “We’re honoured to be recognised by the Earthshot Prize as one of the top game-changing innovations that will help us repair the planet. We all know the damage single-use plastic can cause, however at Cullen we also understand businesses need a scalable, and truly recyclable alternative to replace it, that can be implemented quickly and efficiently – that’s what we provide.”

The final five Earthshot Prize winners will be announced at a ceremony in South Africa in November.