Rings and shrink wrap used in its millions of multipack cans that are primarily made up of single use plastic will be replaced by Heineken with alternative cardboard materials that are much more eco-friendly in nature.
This change will be implemented by the Dutch company starting April of 2020 in a phased manner across its popular brands, which include Heineken and Foster’s, and for this purpose the company has already made an investment of £22m in development of the new technology and production facilities at its plant in the United Kingdom.
Manufactured from recyclable cardboard, the planned can “toppers” are also strong enough to be able to carry the weight of a multipack of cans. The company expects that after complete implementation of this measure in the UK alone, it would be able to remove approximately 517 tonnes of plastic from its packaging process for its products and brand by the end of 2021.
Initially, the brands of Heineken, Foster’s and Kronenbourg 1664 will see this roll out initially, after which the changes will also be incorporated into multican packs of other brands as well which will include the likes of Strongbow, Bulmer’s, Red Stripe and John Smith’s by the end of 2021.
Multipacks of canned drinks, particularly beer, are held together by plastic pack rings, known in the industry as hi-cones or yokes. According to environmentalists, this packaging material, that has been in use in the industry for more than 50 years, has is one of the contributors to environment plastic pollution especially in eth oceans that ultimately is a huge threat to marine flora and fauna.
This new packaging material will initially be introduced in the United Kingdom and is later expected to be rolled out many of the 190 countries that it operates in. every year, 530m cans across all its brands are manufactured by the company in the UK alone and Foster’s accounts for 150m and Heineken 39.5m of the total number of cans.
“It’s what our customers want and expect, and we have been working on and testing this innovation for three years,” said Cindy Tervoort, the head of marketing at Heineken.
As a reaction to public backlash over plastic packaging following the airing of the BBC One’s Blue Planet II series that showed the problem of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, action is being taken by manufacturers and supermarkets to reduce plastic waste especially in packaging.
“This is an interesting development [from Heineken] and will help cut down the amount of plastic on our beaches and in our seas. These kinds of can yokes are regularly found on our beach cleans,” said a spokeswoman for the Marine Conservation Society.
Plan to replace rings with recyclable glue was announced last year by Carlsberg in a quest to find an alternative. Phase wise removal of plastic packaging from multipacks of its Guinness, Harp, Rockshore and Smithwick’s beers have been initiated by Diageo – replacing them with cardboard packs.
There will also be a one third reduction in the carbon emissions associated with producing multipack cans by its decision to use eco-friendly materials, Heineken said.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)