Friday 19 April 2019

Guinness ditches plastic from beer packaging

Guinness packs will be 100pc biodegradable and recyclable
Guinness packs will be 100pc biodegradable and recyclable

Rebecca Black and Gabija Gataveckaite

The maker of Guinness has announced it is removing plastic from its beer packaging.

Plastic ring carriers and shrink wrap will be removed from multipacks of Diageo's beer products - Guinness, Harp, Rockshore and Smithwick's. They will be replaced with 100pc recyclable and biodegradable cardboard.

The multi-can packs will be replaced by cardboard packs. Individual cans are fully recyclable. The new packaging will be on the shelves in Ireland from August, while the UK and other international markets will follow in 2020.

To achieve this, Diageo is investing €18.5m to reduce the amount of plastics used in its packaging.

Its bottling and packaging plant in Northern Ireland will be the first site that will be up and running with the new packs, with the business investing €9.25m in its facility in east Belfast.

The facility packages products which are exported around the world, including to the US, Canada, South Korea and Europe.

Diageo says that currently under 5pc of its total packaging is plastic and this change will reduce plastic usage by over 400 tonnes annually.

Oliver Loomes, country director of Diageo Ireland, said: "Managing our environmental impact is important for the planet and the financial sustainability of our business.

"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."

Environmental Protection Agency Director Dr Eimear Cotter welcomed the move.

"EPA welcomes this announcement to reduce plastic packaging," Ms Cotter said.

"EPA's  waste characterisation study published last year showed that plastic is now the largest waste type collected from households, comprising 17pc of waste. Over the last 10 years packaging waste has increased by 6pc.

"The EPA prioritises waste prevention over other waste management options and therefore we welcome industry initiatives that reduce plastic packaging on products."

Donna Cooney, a spokesperson for VOICE Ireland, an Irish environmental charity, said: "It’s a very welcomed development and a positive move in the right direction.

"The plastic rings around beer cans can be very damaging for wildlife, as we see photos of birds with their necks caught in the rings."

Irish Independent

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