Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I To Eliminate Plastic Rings From All Products By End Of 2020

Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I has announced a multi-million pound investment in new technology, allowing it to eliminate plastic rings from can packaging across its entire UK-produced beer range by the end of 2020.

This £6.3 million investment will enable Budweiser Brewing Group to eliminate a total of 850 tonnes of plastic each year – the equivalent weight of 425 black cabs, 67 double decker buses or 10 blue whales.

This total will include removing 250 tonnes of plastic rings previously used to hold packs of beer cans together (comparable to 117 million plastic rings in total), and 600 tonnes of shrink film, normally used as tertiary packaging around trays used in the shipping of beer packs.

As part of AB InBev, the world’s leading brewer, Budweiser Brewing Group is committed to meeting far-reaching Sustainability Goals embedded in its business, to preserve the natural resources needed to brew beer for years to come. The brewer counts some of the UK’s biggest beer brands in its portfolio, including Stella Artois, Budweiser, Corona, Bud Light, Beck’s and Michelob ULTRA, and produces over 870 million cans per year. The removal of plastic rings from all UK products, including the Stella Artois pint can four-pack, the nation’s biggest selling small pack format, will have a significant impact in reducing plastic from supermarket beer shelves.  

Paula Lindenberg, President of Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, said: “Protecting our natural resources and operating efficiently is crucial for our business, as well as the communities we live and work in. 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. This is another important step towards a more sustainable future, as we move towards brewing our biggest beer brands with 100% locally-sourced barley and 100% renewable electricity from solar power.”

In supportive comments for this Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I initiative, Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said, “Blue Planet II shone a harsh spotlight on the devastating impact plastic pollution has on our world. Through our landmark Resources and Waste strategy, we’re working to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste and we’ve made real progress – driving down plastic bag use by 90% through the 5p charge, introducing a world-leading ban on microbeads and setting out plans for a deposit return scheme for drinks containers to push up recycling rates.  But we can’t turn the tide on plastic pollution alone so I’m hugely encouraged to see a major company like Budweiser Brewing Group UKI making substantial investment in green technology to significantly cut its use of plastic by over 850 tonnes a year, the equivalent weight of 67 double decker buses.”

In order to eliminate plastic rings from all packaging by the end of 2020, Budweiser Brewing Group will restructure and reconfigure production at its two main UK breweries in Magor, South Wales, and Samlesbury, Lancashire. This £6.3million investment in the renovation and upgrades to three canning lines will produce alternatives to plastic, including Keel Clips™, a new technology which uses recyclable paperboard to create a lighter weight pack, as well as wraps and boxes.

Elise Dickinson, Head of Innovation at Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I said: “Making some of the UK’s best-selling beers means that we produce almost 17 million cans per week, so we need technology that can be scalable, as well as efficient to keep up with demand. This new packaging will allow us to produce up to 2,000 cans per minute in a recyclable paperboard “clip”, called a Keel Clip™.  We will be reconfiguring our entire canning production lines in both of our main breweries to introduce this machinery and expand overall paperboard packaging capacity, so that we can ensure all plastic rings are eliminated.”

The announcement comes as C&C Group, a key distribution partner for Budweiser Brewing Group, also unveils plans to cut plastic rings and shrink wrap across its British cider portfolio, including Magner’s and Orchard Pig, removing almost 250 additional tonnes of plastic from the UK market. The changes will begin to roll out from March next year, beginning with the Magners 18-can pack, which will be packaged in recyclable paperboard.

This is the latest in a series of measures implemented by Budweiser Brewing Group as part of the brewer’s 2025 Sustainability Goals, focused on four integral areas of its business:

Smart Agriculture

  • By 2025, 100% of our direct farmers will be skilled, connected, and financially empowered
  • In the UK Budweiser will soon be brewed using 100% British-grown barley, as part of our Bud Farmers programme that has introduced 25,000 football pitches of barley to the UK agricultural landscape since 2014.

Climate Action

  • By 2025, 100% of our purchased electricity will be from renewable sources and we will have a 25% reduction in CO2 emissions across our value chain.
  • Last year, Budweiser Brewing Group announced the UK’s biggest ever unsubsidised solar power deal to brew Budweiser with 100% renewable electricity
  • Trucks from its Samlesbury, Lancashire, brewery are beginning deliveries powered by liquified natural gas (LNG)
  • Last year, the business announced an innovative new patent to reduce its CO2 emissions globally by 5% by brewing with less heat and water

Water Stewardship

  • By 2025, 100% of our communities in high-stress areas will have measurably improved water availability and quality.
  • Stella Artois has been a partner of water.org since 2015 and together have already impacted 2.4m lives through access to clean water.
  • Our breweries are becoming world-class in terms of water efficiency and continue to improve. Water consumption is down by 3% compared to same period last year; 5% saving compared to same period in 2017; and 13% saving compared to same period in 2013)

Circular Packaging

  • By 2025, 100% of our product will be in packaging that is returnable or made from majority recycled content.
  • Corona became the first global beer brand to trial plastic free six pack rings in 2018 and has partnered with Parley for Oceans and to undertake beach cleans throughout the UK

And accelerating towards a sustainable future

Our 100+ Accelerator is hosting and providing funding to start-ups to solve challenges designed to create a more sustainable world for all. Our latest 2020 Sustainability Challenges were launched last month.

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