BURTON-UPON-TRENT, UK, –Molson Coors in the UK and Ireland is removing the plastic packaging from its Carling and Coors Light brands, as part of new global packaging goals. The brewer will remove the plastic film wrap from large multipacks by the end of March 2020, replacing the plastic wrap with 100% recyclable fully enclosed carton board. By the end of March 2021, it will remove plastic rings from Carling and Coors Light cans, switching to 100% recyclable cardboard sleeves.

Molson Coors is investing around £7.5m over the next two years to implement the changes.

The global brewer announced a set of new global packaging goals to reduce plastics in its packaging, aiming for 100% of its packaging to be reusable, recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025. It is also strengthening its goals to drive down packaging emissions, use more recycled materials in its plastic packaging and improve recycling solutions in its key markets.

The new packaging goals have been announced as part of the release of Molson Coors’ annual sustainability report, Our Beer Print Report 2019, which also details its latest performance against its 2025 Our Beer Print sustainability goals and its recently approved science-based emission reduction targets, which align with the Paris Climate Agreement and have been verified by the Science-Based Targets initiative.

Science-based targets offer a roadmap for companies to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to a level of decarbonization required to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial temperatures. Molson Coors’ 2025 goal to lower absolute emissions by 50% within its direct operations was determined as ambitious enough to meet the requirements of the 1.5°C pathway – the latest and most aggressive recommendations set forth by the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

“As a global brewer with strong family heritage, we have always taken seriously our responsibility to brew a more sustainable future,” Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter said. “Plastic waste poses a clear environmental challenge, and as a consumer-packaged-goods company, we play an important role in helping to solve the global waste crisis.”

Commenting on the steps the UK and Ireland business is taking towards achieving the new packaging goals, Kristin Wolfe, Molson Coors UK & Ireland Legal and Corporate Affairs Director, said: “We recognize the challenge of single-use plastics and we’re committed to reducing its use throughout our supply chain. The pledge we’ve made today, both globally and with the local actions we’re taking in the UK & Ireland, will significantly reduce single-use plastics in our packaging, reinforcing our long-term commitment to brewing greener and working towards our 2025 sustainability goals.”

The company’s new packaging strategy outlines four clear goals:

  1. Innovate: Make 100% of plastic packaging reusable, recyclable, compostable or biodegradable

This includes plans to move from a five-layer PET bottle to a three-layer bottle in the US to enhance its recyclability. Additionally, Colorado Native, one of the company’s US craft brands, has become the first Molson Coors brand to test a new plastic-free, fibre-based six-pack ring for beverage cans. These eco-friendly rings are made from post-industrial recycled fibre and are 100% bio-based, recyclable and compostable in commercial composting facilities.

  1. Accelerate: Incorporate at least 30% recycled content in plastic packaging

Alongside the UK’s decision to remove plastic rings and film wrap from its Carling and Coors Light brands, globally the company is aiming to achieve at least 30% recycled content in its PET bottles, plastic film wrap and plastic rings.

  1. Collaborate: Improve recycling infrastructure and support a better recycling system for communities, government and industries

Molson Coors has signed on to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which is a worldwide initiative led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with UN Environment that addresses plastic pollution and waste at its source by applying circular economy principles.

  1. Climate: Reduce carbon emissions from packaging by 26%.

The brewer is also strengthening its goal to reduce carbon emissions from its packaging, which is the largest source of emissions across its value chain. As a component of its goal to reduce its value chain emissions by 50% by 2025, Molson Coors set a specific target to cut packaging emissions by 26%, based on a 2016 baseline.

Molson Coors is working collaboratively with its packaging suppliers to achieve its emissions reduction goal. The effort involves making continuous improvements to packaging type and materials, in addition to working together to promote the use of more renewable energy sources where possible.

Keeping a comprehensive approach

A key element of the company’s global sustainability strategy is working toward a circular economy. Actions such as capturing clean water for reuse, turning wastewater into biogas for onsite energy, sending spent grain to be used for animal feed and cutting down the waste sent to landfills are driving the company’s efforts.

So far, the company has achieved zero waste to landfill at 17 of its global brewing and manufacturing facilities, representing an improvement of three sites over the last year. In the UK, Molson Coors’ two largest breweries in Burton and Tadcaster are zero waste to landfill sites.

Since 2012 Molson Coors’ Burton brewery has benefited from a multi-million dollar investment and continuous improvement programme to drive significant improvements in energy efficiency, water consumption and carbon dioxide recovery. As a result, energy consumption per hectolitre produced has decreased by 23%, with approximately half of this improvement being made in 2018. The brewery has also doubled the output from its carbon dioxide recovery plant, allowing Molson Coors to capture up to 47 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the fermentation process each day. Since January 2018 the Burton site has been completely self-sufficient in carbon dioxide production, going from purchasing around 4,800 tonnes in 2016, to just 100 tonnes in 2018, the equivalent of removing 2,350 tonnes of emissions from its operations.

Molson Coors has invested more than $20 million over the past 10 years to help its barley farmers manage climate-related risks. In addition, as part of a commitment to source 100% of its barley and hops from sustainable suppliers in key growing regions, the company provides financial incentives to encourage growers to adopt more sustainable practices and to collect and report their sustainability metrics to Molson Coors. As a result of these and other efforts, 99% of the company’s barley and hops growers in the US and the UK are aligned with sustainable growing practices.

The company aims to continue to implement water stewardship programs and protect local water resources in partnership with others. Molson Coors has implemented long-standing water stewardship programs in collaboration with communities for its at-risk brewing sites to improve and maintain the health local watersheds.

Taken collectively, the company believes that these initiatives will help the company raise the bar on beer. “More than securing our business, we want to secure our planet,” states Mark Hunter. “We want to ensure that every glass of beer we brew supports our communities and protects our environment for future generations.”