Guinness maker to remove plastic from beer packaging

The maker of Guinness has announced it is removing plastic from beer packaging.

Plastic ring carriers and shrink wrap will be removed from multipacks of Diageo’s beer products – Guinness, Harp, Rockshore and Smithwick’s.

They will be replaced with 100% recyclable and biodegradable cardboard.

Oliver Loomes, country director of Diageo Ireland, and Orla Gill (Naoise Culhane/PA)
Oliver Loomes, country director of Diageo Ireland, and Orla Gill (Naoise Culhane/PA)

The new packaging will be on the shelves in Ireland from August, while the UK and other international markets will follow in 2020.

To achieve this, Diageo is investing €18.5m to reduce the amount of plastics used in its beer packaging.

Its bottling and packaging plant in Northern Ireland will be the first site that will be up and running with the new packs, with the business investing €9.25m in its facility in east Belfast.

The facility packages products which are exported around the world, including to the US, Canada, South Korea and Europe.

Diageo says that currently under 5% of its total packaging is plastic and this change will reduce plastic usage by over 400 tonnes annually.

Oliver Loomes, country director of Diageo Ireland, said: “Managing our environmental impact is important for the planet and the financial sustainability of our business.

“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’s Gate and we are now leading the way in sustainable packaging. This is good news for the environment and for our brand.”

The news comes as supermarket chain Lidl confirmed plans for new in-store bins for unwanted packaging.

Lidl has committed to introducing segregated recycling stations at the end of customer checkouts in all 160 stores across the country.

They will be rolled out from the start of May and will be available across all stores by the month's end.

However, some environmental groups have hit out as the new bins may be confusing due to not all clear plastic being recyclable in Ireland.

Claudia Tormey of the Sick of Plastic Campaign said: "According to My Waste Ireland soft plastic cannot be recycled in Ireland – only rigid plastic can be recycled.

"This will only confuse customers even more; waste management is already a mine-field."

A Lidl spokesperson, however, stated that through its commercial waste partners, the retailer would be in a position to recycle all types of clear plastic which differs from domestic recycling collection.

- Press Association

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