ByEmerald Horizon

May 27, 2014

Sustainability isn’t aesthetically pleasing by definition, so when it comes to saving the planet, slick design tends not to be a benchmark. That’s why a new brand of wine named Paperboy is turning heads. Paperboy Wine’s eco-friendly packaging design marries casual appeal with sustainability, making for a boozin’ experience that’s enjoyable and green. … Or does it?

Paperboy’s industrial beige cardboard sleeves eliminate the heaviness (and fragility) of glass bottles. Designed in partnership between winemaker Truett Hurst and designer Kevin Shaw, the catchy container is “molded from paper pulp and lined with a plastic bladder made by GreenBottle.” As one blogger wrote, “It’s beautiful, eye-catching, responsible, revolutionary. I love it.”

True, Paperboy delivers a dose of Millennial cool on their website. “Paper Boy is a wine that breaks rules. Breaks barriers,” they state on their About page. “It’s the first 100% fully recyclable wine that is 80 percent lighter than glass and made with ultra-green packaging.” Labeling themselves “cool and responsible all at once,” Paper Boy boldly asserts its awesomeness in clear statements:

“Paperboy Wine is billed as a wine that isn’t afraid to break the rules and crash through barriers. What this actually translates to is the fact that it is the world’s first 100% fully recyclable wine insomuch as it has a wine bottle crafted from paper that is 80% lighter than glass bottles and is crafted from ultra-green packaging.”

Sounds sexy, revolutionary … just like a perfect catalyst for change in the wine industry’s packaging standards. … Too bad they’re completely full of B.S.

Paperboy’s Eco-Friendly Packaging Propaganda

Paperboy’s eco-friendly packaging design isn’t classiness in a bottle, the way glass wine is, but you just want to give them credit for their commitment. They have a strong argument for their brand. They’re after a greener Earth. Every cross-county truck delivery conserves 61 gallons of diesel fuel and prevents 1,365 pounds of carbon dioxide from flowing into the atmosphere. They’re “less energy-intensive,” with a carbon footprint that’s 67 percent lower than glass containers. They even place disposal instructions for recycling and responsible discard on each bottle sold so you can chip in and carry on the tradition.

Yes, Paperboy’s eco-friendly package design sparkles brilliant green clarity – like an eco-friendly Emerald – until you consider:
1. Humans are lazy. We never want to do more than what’s required at any given moment. Those of us who do are mutants. Thus, giving us a bottle that comes with specific recycling guidelines – separate the cardboard outer, cap and neck and place them in general recycling, then find a waste to energy program to send the plastic bladder to – is asking our lazy behinds to do too much.

2. Plastic is NEVER sustainable. Forget all the health risks imposed by the use of plastic for food. Anytime you use plastic, you’re using oil. Glass is highly renewable and recyclable. Even if you don’t use glass bottles to make glass bottles, you can break down glass to make tile, TVs and stained glass mosaics for churches. You know how plastic is made? You churn the ground for oil. You know how you recycle plastic? Well, you need even more oil. Oil dependency is already a problem in today’s world, and even the littlest application of plastic negates the sustainability argument.

3. Box wine is nasty. Have you ever sipped box wine? It’s the nastiest thing you’ll ever taste. The flavor of the plastic seeps into the alcohol and stamps itself into your psyche as it gallops across your tastebuds. Box wine is cheap and disgusting, but Paperboy used all their creative resources to reshape the box into a retro-bottle so you could think differently about it.

Paperboy Wine reviews say it’s nasty – and overpriced. Paperboy retails for $14 – $15 and is available at all Safeway stores. However, blogger W. Blake Gray (of The Gray Report) says their red wine tastes like a “supermarket red blend, juicy and fruity without a lot of complexity.” He urges you to buy it to “reward the innovation,” yet adds that, for the price, you could find cheaper wines with the same flavor and delivery. Gray isn’t as fond of the Paperboy Mendocino County Chardonnay either. He dismisses it as a thin-bodied “misdelivery” that adds to the self-fulfilling prophecy of box wine being cheap, which is also a concern.

Paperboy Wine Review: Yay or Nay?

My assistant emailed Paperboy, asking for specifics on making the bottle sustainable post-use. Here’s the exact response she received:


To answer your question, you simply remove the plastic from the two paper shells first. Then, the paper shells can go into the recycling bins and the plastic can be burned. Or you can just throw the plastic away in the trash. There is a brief description on the back of the Paperboy bottles as well. Thank you for your interest and support in Paperboy!

So… throw it away or burn it. That’s just so healthy.

A conclusion is a place where one becomes tired of thinking. Paperboy clearly got tired somewhere along the front-end spectrum of consumer psychographics. The only people buying this “green” wine are those “nouveau riche” Prius-driving yuppies populating San Diego – you know, the ones who pride themselves on wearing vintage consignment clothes and overpriced hemp Crocs on Whole Foods shopping trips for almond stuffed olives and wild-caught salmon.

At the end of his review, Gray mentions, “What I hope is that having a solid but overpriced red wine and a poorly made white wine in this innovative package doesn’t doom the package itself. Americans are down on the concept of box wine because they expect it to taste cheap, which it doesn’t have to, but that quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.” He ends, “Wouldn’t it be great if the paper bottle came to mean environmental responsibility and great-tasting wine? It’s halfway there.”

I disagree. B.S. is the art of making the idiotic sound sensible. With the use of plastic, reshaping of cheap box wine and comatose flavor, Paperboy’s sophisticated new product demonstrates the creative mastery of said art.

By Emerald Horizon

Ms. Emerald Horizon … how do you begin to describe her? As her name suggests, she’s as sparkly and as intriguing as her namesake. She’s a wild woman that’s rumored to run with the wolves, hide in different corners of the world, enjoy sushi and dance. Most of all, Emerald is fearless and passionate when it comes to expressing thought-provoking views to inspire better treatment of Mother Earth and her precious resources.​