Beer giant Corona achieves ‘net-zero plastic footprint’

Beer brand Corona, which is owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), has announced that it is now recovering more plastic from the environment than it generates, describing the milestone as the delivery of 'net-zero plastic'.

Beer giant Corona achieves ‘net-zero plastic footprint’

Pictured: Cans housed in a plastic-free alternative to typical six-pack rings. Image: Corona

The brand claims it is the first in the beverage industry globally to mark the achievement. It worked with consultancy South Pole to assess how much plastic is used across its operations and supply chains, beyond just consumer-facing products.

From there, plans were developed to reduce plastic wherever possible. For example, all multipacks of Corona export volume for cans will be free from plastic rings by the end of 2021. Then, Corona invested to “offset” residual plastics by scaling collection and recycling systems in Mexico, where Corona’s Cervecería Modelo brewery is located. The resulting new recycling capacity, Corona claims, is greater than the capacity needed to process all of the plastics it now produces.

South Pole’s senior managing consultant for plastics Irene Hofmeijer said Corona is “setting the bar high for the industry”. Many alcoholic beverage brands rely predominantly on glass and aluminium packaging and have been working to remove problem plastics like shrinkwrap and multipack rings, but none have yet claimed ‘net-zero plastics’ or ‘plastic neutrality’.  

To communicate the achievement to consumers and to encourage them to play their own part in tackling the global plastic pollution challenge, Corona has launched a new augumented reality experience enabling users to visualise how much plastic they use each year, based on a few questions about their habits. The experience is called Plastic Reality and has been launched today (8 June), to coincide with World Oceans Day.

After showing users their plastic footprint floating in seawater, Plastic Reality directs them to a virtual portal explaining how plastic pollution impacts nature and outlining best-practice advice for reducing their individual plastic footprint.

“As a brand born at the beach and deeply connected with nature, Corona has a responsibility to do all it can to be an ally to our environment and our oceans,” Corona’s global vice president of marketing Felipe Ambra said.

“Becoming the first global beverage brand with a net-zero plastic footprint is the latest in Corona’s broader ambition to help protect the world’s oceans and beaches from plastic pollution. But we can’t do it alone…. Seeing your full year’s worth of plastic in your living room is truly eye-opening, and hopefully will inspire people to reduce their personal plastic use and their impact on the environment.”

Packaging progress

The news builds on the launch of the Corona Plastic Free Challenge. Operated as part of AB InBev’s 100+ Accelerator, which supports sustainable start-ups, the Challenge will fund plastic bottle cap liner alternatives and solutions for keeping products on pallets during transportation without plastic film.

Unilever, Colagate-Palmolive and the Coca-Cola company recently threw their weight behind the 100+ Accelerator.

The news also comes in the same week that AB InBev unveiled new lightweight beer bottles that have a reduced carbon footprint of 17% compared to its other bottle types.  

Sarah George

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