Tennent's unveils £14m plan to eradicate plastics and carbon

Scottish brewer Tennent's has pledged to eradicate single-use plastics from its packaging by 2021 and to become carbon-neutral by 2025 - commitments it is backing with a €16m investment package.

To communicate its investment, Tennent's will be lighting the famous “big red T” in the signage of its Wellpark site in green, and using the green logo on a line of limited-edition pint glasses. Image: Tennent's.

To communicate its investment, Tennent's will be lighting the famous “big red T” in the signage of its Wellpark site in green, and using the green logo on a line of limited-edition pint glasses. Image: Tennent's.

On the packaging commitment, a proportion of the funding will be used to remove shrink wrap and hi-cone rings from can multipacks, replacing them with cardboard alternatives. C&C-owned Tennent’s claims these changes will reduce its annual plastics output by 150 tonnes and mean that its packaging portfolio becomes free from all single-use plastics.

In order to help the Glasgow-based firm meet its 20205 carbon target, a large proportion of the investment has been spent on installing an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant near its HQ in Wellpark. The AD unit treats the wastewater generated as a by-product in brewing processes, resulting in clean water and biogas. The water can be reused at the plant while the biogas can cover 5% of the site’s overall energy needs.

Further investments will now be made in sourcing 100% renewable energy for Tennent’s’ operations by 2025, through a mixture of onsite generation and purchase agreements, and completing a carbon-capture facility at Wellpark.

Ground is set to be broken on the carbon capture facility by the end of 2019; at which point Tennent’s will ramp up its exploration of carbon offsetting schemes and innovations in order to address its "residual" operational emissions.

C&C’s group engineering manager Martin Doogan said the new moves from Tennent’s mark a “leap in the right direction” – but do not mean the business is “complacent” or “finished” with making green investments.

“As Scotland’s oldest surviving business and one of its best-loved, we take our responsibility to do the right thing very seriously,” Doogan said.

“We’ve leveraged our scale and influence, our passion for innovation and our network of contacts to ensure that we act decisively against climate change, without delay… We will continue to seek out ways to minimise our environmental impact across our entire business, from our transport fleet, to international deliveries. Our commitment is to lasting environmental change; in our company, in our industry and beyond.”

Raising a toast to climate action

Outside of its direct operations, Tennent’s’ new commitments include the facilitation of a series of climate-related workshops at some of its Scottish pubs.

The workshops, whereby members of the public will be encouraged to come for “a pint and a plan”, will be facilitated through Tennent’s’ partnership with non-profit 2050 Climate Group – an organization working to turn general climate discussions into advocacy and action.

A full programme of workshop dates and agendas is due to be published in early December, with the first session set to take place soon after.

Tennent’s will also light the famous “big red T” in the signage of its Wellpark site in green, in a symbolic show of support for climate action.

With the UK public now more concerned about climate change than Brexit – largely due to the rise in direct climate action from movements such as Extinction Rebellion and School Strike 4 Climate – Tennent’s is one of several companies now seeking to cement their position as activist brands. The Body Shop, for example, recently opened an ‘activist hub’ at its Bond Street store in London, while Patagonia is currently running a pop-up café whereby visitors can receive advice on climate activism.

Sarah George



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