Budweiser to eliminate plastic six-pack rings from UK packaging portfolio

The company claims the switch will have "a significant impact in reducing plastic from supermarket beer shelves". Image: AB Inbev 

The commitment comes after the brewing giant made a swathe of investments in green packaging technologies at its two main UK breweries in Magor, South Wales, and Samlesbury, Lancashire. Collectively, these facilities produce 17 million cans of beer each week.

Totalling £6.3m, the investments will see three canning lines upgraded to assist with the application of paper-based wraps and boxes – as well as Keel Clips, an emerging technology which uses paperboard – to cans.

Budweiser Brewing Group UK and Ireland estimates that the changes will reduce its annual plastics output by 850 tonnes annually, a figure which consists of 600 tonnes of shrinkwrap and 250 tonnes of plastic rings. 

The firm is notably an Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB Inbev) subsidiary and is therefore aiming for 100% of its packaging to be returnable or made from majority recycled content by 2025.

“Protecting our natural resources and operating efficiently is crucial for our business, as well as the communities we live and work in,” Budweiser Brewing Group UK and Ireland’s president Paula Lindenberg said.

“This is why we have spent the past decade investing in circular packaging initiatives around the world to close the loop and reduce waste.

“We’re proud of the work we’ve already done so far, but we realised more needed to be done to address the issue of single-use plastics. This announcement ensures that the UK’s favourite beers will soon come in recyclable paperboard packaging, so consumers can make even better choices each time they shop.”

Two pints of lager and a plastic-free pack

With the so-called ‘war on plastics’ having shown no sign of slowing down since Blue Planet 2 first aired, Budweiser Brewing Group UK and Ireland is one of several brewing companies to have invested in plastic-free packaging in recent times.

Corona, also an AB Inbev subsidiary, is trialling both paperboard-based six-pack rings and “fit-packs” – stackable cans which screw together – while Diageo is switching to cardboard sleeves and boxes for multipacks of Guinness and beer.

Elsewhere, Carlsberg is phasing out plastic rings in favour of a glue that sticks the cans together and can be recycled along with the aluminium, and Molson Coors is piloting a bio-based pulp alternative for its Colorado Native beer as it strives to reduce the carbon footprint of its packaging portfolio.  

Sarah George

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