Packaging and waste
Packaging is one of the most significant components of our beer’s carbon footprint. We are constantly looking for ways to increase the recycled material in our packaging, support recovery and re-use of bottles and reduce the amount of material in our packaging through actions such as light-weighting our containers.
Our beers are sold in a variety of recyclable package types, from bulk packaging like beer kegs, which are typically returnable and reusable, to cardboard boxes, aluminum cans and glass and PET bottles. We have increased the recycled content in our packaging and continue to make progress in protecting the use of returnable packaging. Through light-weighting and packaging reduction initiatives we have reduced the amount of packaging we use by 126,800 tons since 2012, exceeding our 2017 reduction goal of 100,000 tons a year early.
There are many examples from across the business where we have worked to reduce the weight of packaging. In Brazil in 2016, our business reduced the weight of our 275ml Stella Artois bottles by 7% from 200g to 187g, which will produce an annual saving of over 4,400 tons. In Australia, we worked with glass suppliers to remove 14,000 tons of glass from packaging since 2013.
Post-consumer packaging waste is another big challenge and, increasingly, visible problem in several of our markets. In some markets, we have partnered with local stakeholders to develop recycling solutions in areas where returnable bottles are not viable. In Honduras, our local operation actively supports the recycling of aluminum and PET on the beautiful Caribbean island of Roatan, partnering with local communities to improve ecosystems and livelihoods while also contributing to social development and the creation of local enterprises. In Zambia, through our Manja Pamodzi (Hands Together) program with the Lusaka City Council, we have piloted supporting small-scale waste collectors to gather cartons and plastic bottles and we are looking to scale this initiative.
Beyond our packaging, we seek to minimize the amount of waste we send to landfill from our breweries through recycling initiatives, including using waste as fuel in our operations. In 2016, we decreased the amount of waste sent to landfill by 26% compared to 2015 and decreased our total waste by 2% over the same period. In 2016, we recycled 99.2% of brewery waste, compared with 99.01% in 2015.
In Lusaka, Zambia, waste infrastructure has struggled to keep pace with a growing population. This means post-consumer packaging waste remains largely uncollected or in drains, which when blocked, becomes a source of cholera and typhoid during the rainy season.