Ireland: Diageo to scrap plastic packaging

Global beer and spirits maker Diageo announced today it is investing GBP16million (USD21m) to reduce the amount of plastics used in beer packaging. In particular, plastic ring carriers and shrink wrap will be removed from beer multipacks of brands including Guinness, Harp and Smithwick’s. Instead, the company will introduce 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable cardboard to replace plastic.

“The reduction of plastic waste is the equivalent of removing 40 million 50cl plastic bottles from the world which, if laid out in a row, would reach from London to Beijing (8,136km),” the company said in a press release.

The new sustainable beer packs will be on shelves on the island of Ireland from August 2019 and from Summer 2020 in Great Britain and other international markets. Individual cans will be fully recyclable, including the widget which is contained inside cans of Draught Guinness.

“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 brand,” announced David Cutter, Chief Sustainability Officer and President, Global Supply & Procurement at Diageo.

Currently, less than 5 percent of Diageo’s total packaging around the world is plastic and the company already announced reduced plastics targets from 2025 and beyond. “We’re continuously looking for ways to work with our suppliers, customers and consumers to make our packaging more sustainable,” Diageo confirmed.

The European Commission recently informed that Europeans produce 25 million tons of plastic waste per year, of which less than 30 percent is recycled. This leaves much room for improvement. However, rather than recycling plastic the aim is to totally ban plastics.

Already for many yearsthere have been scientific concerns about a chemical called bisphenol A, or BPA which is found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in containers that store food and beverages, such as water bottles, where it can seep into food or beverages. Since BPA has been used in packaging for years, it’s estimated that it can be detected in the urine of most adults in the developed world.In the European Union, plastics used for baby bottles and toys must be BPA free.

Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that BPA is safe at very low levels it continues its review of BPA and recommends to use alternatives such as glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers for hot foods and liquids instead of plastic containers.

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