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Diageo removes plastic wrap from beer packs

Diageo has invested £16m to reduce the amount of plastic it uses in its beer packaging in a bid to improve its sustainability. 

It has removed the plastic ring carriers and shrink wrap from its multipacks of Guinness, Harp and Smithwick's.

The new packs will be on shelf on all beer brands in the island of Ireland from August 2019 and from Summer 2020 in Great Britain and all other export markets. Currently, under five per cent of Diageo’s total packaging is plastic and this change will reduce Diageo’s plastic usage by over 400 tonnes annually. This is the equivalent of removing 40 million 50cl plastic bottles from the world. 

The multi-can packs will be replaced by cardboard packs, which are sustainably sourced, recyclable and fully biodegradable. Individual cans are fully recyclable, including the widget which is contained inside cans of Draught Guinness. 

Mark Sandys, Global Head of Beer, Baileys and Smirnoff for Diageo, says: “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, adds: “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.” 

In 2018, Diageo announced new plastics targets from 2025 and beyond. Its targets ensure that 100 per cent of plastics used are designed to be widely recyclable, or reusable/compostable. In December 2017, Diageo committed to phasing out the use of plastic straws and stirrers from its offices, events, promotions, advertising and marketing globally. In July 2018, Diageo phased out single use plastic bottles and other catering items from its offices and manufacturing sites.

16 April 2019 - Sam Coyne The Drinks Report, editor