The public gets what the public wants.
Hats off to Diageo. Who? Diageo - a British corporation with an annual revenue of GBP£12 billion (NZ$23 billion). The company owns over 200 high profile liquor brands including Guiness, Smirnoff, and Johnny Walker.
Diageo has just announced that as from 2021 Johnny Walker whisky will be available in paper bottles.
Well, not quite paper - it's a paper-based product made from sustainably produced pulp, and it will be 100% recyclable through standard recycling streams.
They have even formed a new company to develop, produce, and market the product.
This is of course great news, and I predict it is only the beginning.
On the other hand Coca Cola with an annual revenue of USD$37billion (NZD$56 billion) have said they are not going to stop producing plastic bottles because their customers still want them.
I have been saying for some time now that you and I should do what we can to reduce, reuse, and recycle, but the big changes are going to have to come from higher up.
This is where it gets interesting.
When corks in wine bottles got the boot in the early 2000s I was not in favour of screwtops. Gone was the romance and panache of opening a bottle of wine at the table and 'tasting' the wine. Not that I had a clue what I was doing, it was just tradition and I liked it.
And next year when I am standing in front of the liquor store display I know I will find it hard to choose an opaque paper-based bottle of whisky over the warm inviting appeal of the amber fluid in a nicely lit glass bottle. If I'm honest, given the choice I might even go for the glass one.
This is where people need leadership. Humans are not termites, selflessly working for the greater good. If we were, we might not be in such a pickle now. The fact is we will take the easier, more comfortable, more desirable path at every turn. This is why we go to the gym for exercise; we could easily do the workout at home but we need the peer pressure and the instructor to help us do what we know must be done.
As a company, Apple is very good at this. They know what the market needs, and even to a certain extent what the market wants, often before the market knows. I have often heard people complaining about some innovation forced on its customers by the 'control freaks' at Apple. And yet it usually doesn't take long for these innovations to become essential, and then everyone else (the competition) follows suit.
The big corporations of the world are de facto leaders which can lead the way, certainly with regard to the environment, more effectively than governments (which are voted in and out by weak willed people). So hats off to Diageo, and a stern look at Coca Cola, who should have more corporate courage and do the right thing.