Heineken UK launches plastic free cardboard topper to minimize plastic use

UK – Heineken UK has rolled out its 100% plastic-free cardboard topper on its Heineken, Foster’s and Kronenbourg 1664 multi-pack cans before rolling out across its entire beer and cider portfolio.

The new packaging not only removes plastic but minimises the use of materials and reduces waste.

The combination of the new topper, dubbed Green Grip, and the removal of shrink wrapping on consumer packs according to the brewer, will eliminate over 517 tonnes of plastic annually – the equivalent of 94 million plastic bags.

“This is a game changer. For so long, the plastic pack rings on cans of beer and cider have been rightly scrutinised. We have been working on a solution for several years – one that is durable, totally recyclable, and completely plastic free.

“Importantly, this is an innovation that can be used at scale on hundreds of millions of cans every year,” Michael Gillane, marketing director, Heineken UK, said.

With the installation of the new packaging machinery set to take place at the same time as travel restrictions were implemented across Europe, Heineken UK said it overcame a significant logistical hurdle by using virtual technology to partly help install the machinery at its brewery in Manchester.

“After announcing our intention in November last year, we’re extremely pleased to launch Green Grip – our plastic free, recyclable and compostable topper in UK supermarkets this summer, especially during such a challenging time. The easy decision would have been to postpone the launch, but that was never an option,” added Michael.

“The use of innovative technology, combined with the hard work of our team in Manchester, meant we stay on track to achieve our ambition to eliminate single-use plastic on our products from supermarket shelves.

“This is a significant milestone in our journey, and we look forward to rolling the innovation out across the rest of our beer and cider portfolio in 2021.”

Commenting on overcoming challenges posed by Covid-19 in commissioning the Green Grip line Brewing & Operations Director, Matt Callan said that introducing a brand new technology is challenging at the best of times but doing so at a time of social distancing measures and when they’ve adapted their operations to meet heightened supermarket demand is a testament to the adaptability and determination of our brewery and project teams.

“We continue to look at further options to eliminate single-use plastic, including in our logistics and distribution network as we remain committed to eliminating unnecessary plastic in our total supply chain,” he said.

The launch forms part of the company’s ongoing commitment to eliminating this type of plastic from supermarket shelves by the end of 2021, and it said this focus helped it innovate sustainably during the unprecedented Covid-19 period.

“We have plans to remove all non-recyclable and excess packaging from our business and are working with a number of brands to achieve this. It’s great to see Heineken UK eliminate plastic from its cans of beer – our customers want to use less plastic, so I’m sure they’ll appreciate this change,” James Bull, Head of Packaging at Tesco said.

Recently, Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP) announced it will be introducing CanCollar, a new paperboard packaging solution for its multipack cans.

The certified recyclable paperboard-based rings will first launch in the Balearic Islands in November 2020, marking Spain as the first European country to roll out the solution.

Through collaboration with US corrugated packaging company WestRock, CCEP will replace its current Hi-cone solution with CanCollar.

The shift forms part of CCEP’s efforts to remove all “unnecessary or hard to recycle plastic” from its portfolio with claims that it will save more than 18 tonnes of plastic annually.

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