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Diageo to use biodegradable cardboard instead of plastic for its Guinness multipacks.

“We have been working tirelessly to make our packaging more environmentally friendly and I’m thrilled with this outcome for Guinness and our other global beer brands.” 

Drinks giant Diageo has announced that it will stop using plastic for its beer packaging from August. The Guinness maker said it would replace plastic ring carriers and shrink wrap with cardboard-based alternatives, which would be recyclable and biodegradable.

The change will be rolled out on multipacks of Guinness (@GuinnessGB), Harp, Rockshore (@rockshore_ie) and Smithwick’s (@visitSmithwicks) from August 2019 in Ireland, extending to its export markets in summer 2020.

As part of the move Diageo (@Diageo_News) also said it was investing €9.25m in its Belfast bottling and packaging plant, which will be the first location to produce the new packaging.

In a statement, the drinks giant said that the change will reduce the amount of plastic waste produced by 400 tonnes per year.

Diageo also said that individual cans were “fully recyclable”, including the widget which is contained inside cans of Draught Guinness.

Mark Sandys, Global Head of Beer, Baileys and Smirnoff for Diageo, said: “For 260 years Guinness has played a vital role in the communities around us. We already have one of the most sustainable breweries in the world at St. James’s Gate and we are now leading the way in sustainable packaging.  This is good news for the brand, for our wider beer portfolio and for the environment.”

David Cutter, Diageo’s Chief Sustainability Officer and President, Global Supply & Procurement, added: “Great packaging is essential for our products. Consumers expect our packs to look beautiful, be functional, and sustainable. I am proud to announce this investment, through which we have been able to combine all three. We have been working tirelessly to make our packaging more environmentally friendly and I’m thrilled with this outcome for Guinness and our other global beer brands.”

By committing to this move, Diageo joins a long list of other drink makers who have pledged to make their packs more environmentally friendly.

Last year, Danish beer brand Carlsberg said it was abandoning plastic rings for recyclable glue. Its innovation called the ‘Snap Pack’ replaces the plastic wrapping used around Carlsberg’s six packs with a pioneering technology that glues its cans together.

Last year, beer giant Corona also announced that it will pilot plastic-free six pack rings in select markets. The trial is part of the brands commitment with environmental organisation Parley for the Oceans to lead the industry with eco-friendly packaging. The rings are made from plant-based biodegradable fibres, with a mix of by-product waste and compostable materials, the company said in a statement.

Although beer brands are tackling plastic waste for their products, it is not entirely clear what measures they are taking to tackle plastic waste for the forthcoming summer festival season.

According to UK environmental charity RAW Foundation, there are more than 500 summer music festivals in the UK alone and it is estimated that one in six adults in the UK have attended a festival or live music event.

Yet, mirroring the proliferation of disposables in society, festivals consume vast amounts of single-use plastics and other materials, such as serviceware for drinks and food, the Foundation said in a statement.

In fact, around 23,500 tonnes of waste are produced annually at UK music festivals, according to estimates by Powerful Thinking, a think tank focused on the festival industry.

UK-based Glastonbury Festival has committed to banning plastic bottles for the first time. When organisers hold the event this summer, single-use plastic drinks bottles will not be available to purchase at the Festival.

“They will also no longer be supplied or available in any of the Festival’s backstage, production, catering and dressing room areas,” the organisers of the event said.

Festival organisers add that they will triple WaterAid kiosks to make it more easily available, and although festival-goers won’t be stopped from bringing their own plastic bottles on site, they “strongly encourage everyone to join the effort by bringing as little single-use plastic as possible”.

US festival Coachella has also launched new initiatives this year to help minimise the amount of waste sent to the landfill during and post festival. The event’s organisers claim that all the serviceware provided for festival is compostable, including paper cups and paper plates.

With big festival looking to cut down on plastic, it may give beer brands an incentive to follow suit.

You may also be interested in reading…

ReadCarlsberg abandons plastic rings for recyclable glue among range of green initiatives.

ReadCorona to trial plastic-free pack rings made from plant-based biodegradable fibres.

Read: Five very different ways that can help tackle the global plastic crisis.

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