Heineken UK is eliminating plastic rings and plastic shrink wrap from its entire line of beer and cider sold in multi-pack cans—including Foster’s, and Kronenbourg—removing 517 tons of plastic annually from the supply chain—which is the equivalent of about 94 million plastic bags a year.

The initiative is part of the Dutch company’s newly-announced £22 million investment for a scalable innovative replacement: a 100% plastic-free topper for multi-packs that uses sustainably sourced cardboard.

The new packaging was designed to not only remove plastic, but also to minimize the use of materials and reduce waste. The cardboard topper is 100% recyclable and compostable and—importantly for shoppers—is robust and easy to grip.

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The cardboard design will be rolled out across Heineken, Foster’s, and Kronenbourg multi-pack cans and made available in UK retailers starting in April 2020. This will be followed by all Heineken brands in multi-pack cans, including Strongbow, Bulmer’s and John Smith’s by the end of 2021.

Heineken UK Marketing Director Cindy Tervoort said: “The effect of single-use plastic is having on our planet can’t be ignored. Creating an eco-friendly solution that eliminates plastic while still meeting the demands of our beer and cider drinkers has been a big focus in our business.

“Now, after years in development and huge investment, we’re extremely pleased to announce our recyclable and compostable topper innovation, a significant milestone in our journey to eliminate all single-use plastic,” she concluded.

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The company already sells over half of its beers and ciders on draught in pubs around the country through refillable kegs that can be used for up to 30 years.

The pledge to eliminate plastic rings from the UK is the latest commitment in Heineken’s ‘Brewing a Better World’ strategy to become more sustainable. During the past three years, Heineken UK has employed several eco-friendly initiatives, including “light-weighting” glass bottles and aluminum cans, trialling deposit return schemes at festivals to encourage recycling, and decreasing CO2 by 68% since 2008 through investments in new technology.

Despite how Heineken is not the first—or second, or third—major beer company to ditch plastic 6-pack rings, Heineken representatives told ITV News that they wanted to make sure that their cardboard was sustainably sourced. Once the cardboard packaging is fully deployed across their line of products, only 2% of the company’s packaging will be comprised of plastic.

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