£16m investment

Diageo drops plastic for cardboard in beer packaging

Guinness packDrinks giant Diageo is reducing the amount of plastics used in its beer packaging and replacing it with cardboard.

The company will remove 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 across the island of Ireland from August this year and from Summer 2020 in Great Britain and all other export markets. The company is investing £16m in the move.

Currently, under 5% of Diageo’s total packaging is plastic and this change will reduce its plastic usage by over 400 tonnes annually. This is the equivalent of removing 40 million 50cl plastic bottles which, if laid out in a row, would reach from London to Beijing (8,136km).

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, said: “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, chief sustainability officer and president, global supply & procurement, added: “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. The targets ensure that 100% of plastics used are designed to be widely recyclable, or reusable/compostable.

In December 2017, the company committed to phasing out the use of plastic straws and stirrers from its offices, events, promotions, advertising and marketing globally – and advocates the same to its partners and customers. In July 2018, it phased out single use plastic bottles and other catering items from its offices and manufacturing sites.


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