As the world’s leading brewer, responsibility for our products goes from the barley farms to beyond the last sip. This includes the glass bottles and aluminum cans used to package our beloved beers for enjoyment by consumers worldwide. To reduce the environmental impact of our packaging - which accounts for more than one-third of our products’ carbon footprint - we are reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across our value chain and taking a circular approach. We are increasing our use of recycled materials, working with partners to boost recycling rates around the world, and reducing the amount of material used.
Every day our teams and supply chain partners are reimagining what’s possible in sustainable packaging and developing inventive, green technologies. Here are some of our latest innovations.
Bottles and cans, shedding grams
In June, we announced the development of a scalable solution to produce the world’s lightest longneck beer bottle. The technology reduces a bottle’s weight from 180 to 150 grams, a change that cuts CO2e emissions by 17% per bottle. It was developed by our Global Innovation and Technology Center (GITEC) in Leuven, Belgium, in collaboration with our suppliers, and features new coatings and state-of-the-art technologies to ensure strength and quality.
AB InBev has been reducing the weight of our bottles and cans progressively for years to reduce carbon emissions.
“Can manufacturing and filling is done at speeds over 2,000 cans per minute and can thickness is sometimes less than a sheet of paper,” says Evan O’Connor, Global Director – Metal Packaging Technology for AB InBev. “Meticulous design and engineering ensure lightweight cans offer the same high-quality experience for our consumers.”
Now GITEC is getting ready to unveil the next generation of lightweight cans in Mexico and the U.S. later this year. It’s anticipated that converting just one canning line will use 350 fewer tons of aluminum and reduce GHG emissions by over 3,000 tons – the equivalent of removing nearly 650 passenger cars from the road.
“AB InBev is working closely with our suppliers to introduce lightweight cans across the majority of our brands globally over the next three years,” says Italo Verdi, Global Procurement Director - Cans and Metals. “Our hope is this innovation will have an even bigger environmental impact by becoming a new standard not just for AB InBev, but the entire can industry.”
Low carb meets low carbon
In a first for the canned beverage industry, our team at Anheuser-Busch (A-B) in North America recently entered a global partnership with Rio Tinto to produce cans that are
not only infinitely recyclable, but made from responsibly produced, low-carbon aluminum.
The cans were first made available earlier this year in Charlotte, North Carolina, where 2.5 million low-carbon cans of Michelob ULTRA hit the shelves after being produced in Jacksonville, Florida. As part of the partnership, Anheuser-Busch also donated eight million kilowatt hours of renewable electricity credits to Charlotte, or
roughly enough renewable electricity to power all city-owned facilities for one week.
The cans meet industry-leading sustainability standards thanks to innovative low carbon aluminum made with renewable hydropower along with recycled content. These are A-B’s most sustainable beer cans yet, with the potential to reduce carbon emissions by
more than 30 percent per can compared to similar cans produced using traditional
manufacturing techniques in North America.
Beer packs made from barley
Corona has a long history of championing circular packaging and protecting nature.
In March, the brand introduced a six-pack carton made using renewable, recyclable paper made from barley straw – a material leftover after barley grain is harvested. The pack is another industry-first from GITEC who, together with partner Sustainable Fiber Technologies, spent three years perfecting the innovation.
“This ground-breaking technology incorporates barley - an essential ingredient in brewing beer – giving it a new life as a sustainable packaging solution that is as strong and durable as a regular six-pack, but better for the planet,” says Fredrik De Graaf, Global Director – Packaging Technology Development.
Compared to traditional pulping processes, the new technology uses 90% less water in
its production than the traditional virgin wood process, along with less energy and
fewer harsh chemicals, and it can be recycled like any other paper.
Not putting a ring on it
In 2020, Budweiser Brewing Group UK and Ireland put its last plastic rings on its beer cans, including Budweiser, Bud Light, Stella Artois and Beck’s. Instead, the breweries are now using alternative packaging like fully recyclable wraps and the KeelClip™, a new technology which uses recyclable paperboard to create a lighter weight pack.
Along with decreasing the usage of plastic shrink wrap, the change eliminates 850 tonnes of plastic waste, the equivalent weight of 67 double decker buses, every year.
“Sustainability and the wellbeing of our planet is one of the most important priorities for our business,” said Paula Lindenberg, President of Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I. “I’m so proud that we’ve met our target of removing plastic rings and shrink wrap from all our canned beers. Thanks to the hard work of our teams, there are no longer plastic rings on any canned beer that leaves our breweries in the UK.”