Guinness is going green.
Diageo, the brand’s parent company, announced this week that all plastic rings and shrink wrap will be phased out and replaced with 100% biodegradable and recyclable carboard in packs of Guinness, Smithwick's, and Harp.
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The company says it has committed £16 million ($21 million) to make the changes, which will roll out in Ireland in August and in Britain and other international markets in summer 2020. Diageo claims the move will remove the equivalent of 40 million plastic bottles from the world, which would stretch from London to Beijing if laid in a row.
The company has also challenged itself to only use widely recyclable plastic, or a version that is reusable or compostable, by 2025. By 2030, they hope for 100% of their plastic used in their packaging to be recycled.
#Guinness is removing plastic packaging from its beer packs! 🙌 Cardboard will replace plastic ring carriers & shrink wrap from multipacks of Guinness, Harp & Smithwick’s beer, equivalent to removing 40 million 50cl plastic bottles. More here: https://t.co/99572ST2Ggpic.twitter.com/rME6zDqtUo— Diageo News (@Diageo_News) April 15, 2019
Mark Sandys, Diogeo’s global head of beer, Baileys, and Smirnoff, says in a statement to Global Citizen: “For 260 years Guinness has played a vital role in the communities around us. We already have one of the most sustainable breweries in the world at St. James’ Gate and we are now leading the way in sustainable packaging. This is good news for the brand, for our wider beer portfolio, and for the environment.”
Chief Sustainability Officer David Cutter adds that the company has been “working tirelessly to make our packaging more environmentally friendly” and that he’s “thrilled with the outcome.”
Guinness’ parent company is following in the footsteps of Carlsberg, another European brewer that announced plans to create a “snap pack” to reduce plastic packaging. The company said the move will reduce plastic waste by 1,200 tons annually, which is equivalent to 60 million plastic bags.
Single-use plastic is a massive problem for the environment, polluting oceans and rivers and killing marine life. Plastics also emit toxic greenhouses gases. Very little of the 300 million tons of plastic created each year are recycled or reused. More than 8 million tons are dumped in the ocean every year.
Companies such as McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Disney have made pledges to reduce their plastic usage, starting with single-use straws, which the city of Seattle has banned entirely. Ikea is phasing out plastic straws, cups, plates, and bags by 2020, and Adidas has said it will only use recycled plastic by 2024. Coca-Cola Australia has also promised to use 10,000 less tons of plastic annually by 2020.