'Snap Packs' and greener ink: Carlsberg unveils new packaging solutions designed to reduce waste
Danish brewer Carlsberg is set to reduce its global packaging waste by more than 1,200 tonnes annually, after launching new Snap Pack multi-packs for branded beers alongside a host of other closed-loop packaging renovations.
Carlsberg’s Snap Pack replaces traditional plastic packaging wrapped around Carlsberg multi-packs with a glue that sticks the cans together. The Snap Packs have launched on a trial basis in the UK and Norway this month, with further rollouts scheduled in 2019.
When launched across Carlsberg’s 11 global markets, the brewer’s plastic packaging waste will be reduced by more than 1,200 tonnes a year – equivalent to 60 million plastic bags.
Speaking exclusively to edie, Carlsberg’s sustainability director Simon Boas Hoffmeyer saluted the work of the brewer’s partners and suppliers in developing and testing the products to examine any potential consequences of the switch.
“Our sustainability programme is called Together Towards Zero for a reason,” Hoffmeyer told edie. “Without partnerships and without radically changing the way we do things, we definitely can’t achieve the level of change that we want. We can’t do it alone at Carlsberg, and no one knows these materials better than our partners. So, unleashing their potential is incredibly important for us to reach our targets.
“We’ve done our very best to test the solution as much as we can. Three years ago, when we started developing this solution, there was not as much focus on plastic and it’s great that the focus on sustainability from consumers has grown. The Snap Pack is one of those rare and radical innovations whereby it can reduce plastic packaging by 76% while maintaining the same functionality for consumers. That is incredibly rare.”
Carlsberg claims the innovation is a world first for a global brewer and will reduce the amount of plastic traditionally used in multi-packs by between 50-76%. Carlsberg stresses that the glue should placed into recycling bins alongside the cans, rather than separated, and aligns to the Danish firm’s goals of reducing material, cutting carbon emissions and limiting a reliance on fossil fuel-based packaging materials.
Hoffmeyer acknowledged the importance of collaborating with partners and suppliers to launch new innovations, which in turn will enable Carlsberg to reach key goals listed under the Together Towards Zero strategy.
The strategy aims for zero carbon emissions at breweries, a 30% reduction in beer-in-hand emissions by 2030, zero wastewater and inducting 30 partners into the Carlsberg Circular Community (CCC), which engages partners in the value chain to reduce emissions through closed-loop practices.
The Litter Mermaid
To coincide with the launch of the Snap Packs, Carlsberg has announced a strategic partnership with Danish environmental firm Plastic Change. Carlsberg has also created a unique version of Copenhagen’s Little Mermaid statue, made entirely from its new Snap Pack cans.
The marketing ploy is three metres high and features a rising tide made from 137kg of plastic – equivalent to the amount that Carlsberg will eliminate every hour following the global rollout of the Snap Pack.
The Snap Pack was the headline feature announced in a plethora of packaging solutions unveiled at Carlsberg’s Copenhagen brewery.
Alongside new oxygen-removing bottle caps to make beer fresher for longer, Carlsberg is now introducing shrink wrapping consisting of 50-100% recycled plastic. The recycled shrink will be sourced from Carlsberg’s own production (around 30%) and from processed shrink sent to suppliers.
The new wrapping has up to a 60% lower carbon impact than virgin shrink and will be trialled on six, 12, 20 and 24 packs in Sweden. The wrapping is viewed as a complementary step change by Carlsberg, notably in the short-term in countries yet to launch the Snap Pack.
Greener green bottles
Carlsberg has also fitted refillable glass bottles – not available in the UK – with a new coating from chemicals company Arkema to help extend their lifespan. Once the coating has been applied the bottle can be used up to 25 more times before degradation becomes noticeable. The coating is washed off and reapplied each time a refillable bottle is sent back to Carlsberg for reuse.
Finally, Carlsberg is introducing “greener” green ink for its bottle labels in a bid to improve the recyclability of its products. Traditionally, green ink can be made using toxic chemicals that can also affect the efficiency of recycling facilities. The new ink is certified against the Cradle-to-Cradle (C2C) Silver standard and Carlsberg are exploring ways to reach Gold-level certification. The company claims it is the only brewer using the technology, but does not own it, meaning others are able to utilise it.
C2C is only awarded when products fit into biological and technical cycles that produce no waste streams. C2C forms the basis of the company’s CCC initiative, that partners with suppliers to develop products that are optimised for recycling and reuse but still retain their value. In 2016, Carlsberg became the first company in the world to be accredited with a (C2C) Bronze certification for glass beverage packaging.
Commenting on the launch of the packaging solutions, Carlsberg’s chief executive Cees ‘t Hart added: “It’s an important day for Carlsberg. We are working hard to deliver on our ambitious sustainability agenda and to help tackle climate change.
"We always strive to improve and today’s launch clearly shows our ambition to follow in our founder’s footsteps towards a better tomorrow. Carlsberg's Snap Pack will significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste, and we look forward to giving our consumers better beer experiences with less environmental impact.”
At the launch event in Copenhagen, the company also teased an update on plans to develop the world's first fully biodegradable wood-fibre beer bottle. Originally announced in 2015, the bottle is designed to be bio-based and made from sustainably-sourced wood-fibre - known as the 'Green Fibre Bottle'. More information is expected on any potential commercialisation in 2019.
Be sure to check edie soon for a feature exploring how meaningful brand purpose saw Carlsberg target the environmental impacts of its packaging in a holistic manner, featuring exclusive interviews with Boas-Hoffmeyer and Carlsberg Brand’s global marketing director Julian Marsili.