Budweiser to stop using plastic for all its UK beer four-packs before 2021
Brewing firm Budweiser is to phase out single-use plastic pack rings from its entire range of UK-produced beer – which include the bestselling brands Stella Artois, Budweiser and Bud Light – by the end of 2020.
The group is investing £6.3m on upgrading production at its two UK factories to produce alternatives to single-use plastic, which include recyclable paperboard as well as wraps and boxes.
It said the switch would help it eliminate 850 tonnes of plastic each year – the same weight as 425 black cabs, 67 double-decker buses or 10 blue whales. This includes removing 250 tonnes of plastic rings previously used to hold packs of beer cans together (117m plastic rings in total) and 600 tonnes of shrink film, mostly used as extra packaging around trays when shipping.
Part of AB InBev, the world’s biggest brewer, the group has some of the UK’s biggest beer brands in its portfolio, including Beck’s, Bud Light, Budweiser, Corona, Michelob Ultra and Stella Artois, and manufactures more than 870m cans a year.
Paula Lindenberg, the president of Budweiser Brewing Group UK & Ireland, said: “This announcement ensures that the UK’s favourite beers will soon come in recyclable paperboard packaging, so consumers can make better choices. We’re proud of the work we’ve already done but we realised more needed to be done to address the issue of single-use plastics.”
The brewer is also switching to 100% locally sourced barley and 100% renewable electricity from solar power.
It hopes the removal of plastic rings from all its UK products, including the Stella Artois pint can four-pack – the biggest selling small pack format – will have a significant impact in removing plastic from supermarket beer shelves.
Plastic pack rings, known in the industry as hi-cones or yokes, are used to hold together multipacks of canned drinks, particularly beer. A standard packaging device for more than 50 years, they have become an environmental scourge by contributing to growing ocean plastic pollution and posing a threat to marine life.
Last year, in a quest to find an alternative, Carlsberg announced plans to replace the rings with recyclable glue. Diageo has started phasing out plastic packaging from multipacks of its Guinness, Harp, Rockshore and Smithwick’s beers and replacing it with 100% recyclable and biodegradable cardboard packs.
Last week, Coca-Cola said it was ditching plastic shrink wrap packaging used for multipack soft drink cans and replacing it with 100% recyclable cardboard across western Europe. The new cardboard multipacks will be introduced on four, six and eight packs of cans across all brands, including Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Dr Pepper, Fanta, Lilt and Sprite.