AB InBev-owned Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) has started selling its Victoria Bitter and Carlton Draught beers in Australia without plastic ring packaging.
CUB’s Abbotsford brewery in Melbourne is now using cardboard to connect cans – a move that will reduce the number of plastic ring packaging being manufactured by up to 25 million a year.
The Abbotsford announcement follows the discontinuation of plastic six-pack rings at CUB’s Cascade Brewery in Tasmania last year.
As part of the company’s environmental commitments, CUB will also stop using plain shrink wrap on slabs of cans, to be replaced with new cardboard packaging.
While consumers will start seeing the new packaging in the coming weeks, it may take a couple of months for old stock to disappear entirely across Australia.
CUB CEO Peter Filipovic said: “Beer lovers can now enjoy their favourite beers from the can without worrying about their damaging effect on the environment.
“We’ve been around for 180-odd years. We’re determined to be around for another 180 and more, and our sustainability programme is critical to that. We’ve sourced and tested the new packaging, installed the new equipment, and now the new packaging is running off the canning line at Abbotsford.
“Last year, we made a commitment that 100% of our products will be in packaging that is returnable or made from majority-recycled content by 2025. The decision to stop using plastic six-pack rings is a major step towards achieving that.”
The move away from plastic rings follows similar commitments by other beer makers. Last year, Corona introduced plastic-free six-pack rings which are made from plant-based biodegradable fibre.
Corona said that if left in the environment, its six-pack rings break down into organic material that is not harmful to wildlife. It added that the industry standard plastic six-pack rings are made from a photodegradable form of polyethylene “that results in increasingly smaller pieces of plastic if not recycled”.
Meanwhile, Carlsberg released the Snap Pack, a technology which glues cans together and reduces the amount of plastic used in traditional multi-packs by up to 76%. Carlsberg won the best CSR/sustainability initiative at the World Beverage Innovation Awards 2018 for its use of the packaging.