Heineken UK to scrap plastic packaging for its multi-pack beers

Key Points
  • In recent years, U.K. consumers' awareness of plastic pollution and the damage it can cause has grown. 
  • Major companies from a range of sectors are now looking to cut down on the amount of plastic they use. 

Heineken U.K. is to introduce cardboard packaging to replace the plastic rings used on its multipack cans.

In an announcement Thursday, the drinks giant said the new "topper" was formed from cardboard that had been sustainably sourced. It added that the new packaging was "100% recyclable and compostable."

The packaging will initially be used on multi-pack cans of Heineken, Foster's and Kronenbourg 1664. These products will be sold by retailers from April 2020.

By the end of 2021 all of Heineken U.K.'s multi-pack cans — which include brands such as Strongbow and John Smith's — will be free from plastic. Getting rid of shrink wrapping and using the new cardboard topper would help the company get rid of 517 tons of plastic per year, it said. 

"The effect single-use plastic is having on our planet can't be ignored," Cindy Tervoort, Heineken U.K.'s marketing director, said in a statement. "Creating an eco-friendly solution that eliminates plastic while still meeting consumer demand has never been more important in our business."

In the last few years, U.K. consumers' awareness of plastic pollution and the damage it can cause has been heightened by TV shows such as "Blue Planet II." Presented by David Attenborough, the program highlighted the shocking impact plastic has on wildlife.

Heineken U.K. is the latest major business to attempt to reduce the amount of plastic it uses.

At the start of November, major U.K. grocery chain Tesco announced plans to remove 1 billion pieces of plastic from own-brand products in its U.K. stores by the end of 2020.

In October, consumer goods giant Unilever said it would halve its use of virgin plastic by 2025.

The business, whose brands include Dove, Ben & Jerry's and Lipton, said it would achieve this by cutting its "absolute use of plastic packaging" by over 100,000 tons and "accelerating its use of recycled plastic." Virgin plastics are produced using raw materials, rather than recycled ones.

The Anglo-Dutch firm also vowed to "help collect and process more plastic packaging than it sells."