Climate Action

Heineken removes plastic multi-pack rings

Brewery giant Heineken joins other drinks manufacturers to reduce its plastic packaging by switching to cardboard.

  • 07 November 2019
  • Camilla Watkiss

Brewery giant Heineken joins other drinks manufacturers to reduce its plastic packaging by switching to cardboard.

Heineken has assured its customers that their new cardboard rings are as sturdy as their plastic predecessors. These plastic toppers were a standard packaging device used to hold together multipacks of canned drinks for more than 50 years, they have been contributing to the plastic waste crisis afflicting the worlds eco-systems, posing a major threat to marine life.

In response to the plastic waste crisis Heineken has invested £22m in new technology and production facilities at sites across the UK.

The adoption of these new recyclable and compostable cardboard rings will lead to 517 tonnes of plastic being removed from the packaging of its brands in the UK by the end of 2021. Heineken has said that this is the equivalent of 94 million plastic bags.

The new plastic-free packaging will be rolled out across its brands including Heineken, Foster’s, Kronenbourg 1664, Strongbow, Bulmer’s, Red Stripe & John Smith’s by the end of 2021. 

Head of Marketing at Heineken, Cindy Tervoort said: “It’s what our customers want and expect, and we have been working on and testing this innovation for three years.”

The UK is the first of Heineken’s 190 world markets to introduce the new packaging. In the UK, it produces 530m cans across all its brands every year, of which Foster’s accounts for 150m and Heineken 39.5m.

A spokeswoman for the Marine Conservation Society said: “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.”

Rival brewers Carlsberg are also working to eliminate their plastic packaging. They unveiled the ‘world first’ sustainable beer bottle last month, made from sustainably sourced wood fibres and fully recyclable.

In September Budweiser also announced it would remove all single-use plastic pack rings from its UK range of produced beer, including Stella Artois, Budweiser and Bud Light by the end of 2020. 

Photograph: Heineken