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Brazil's Ambev sets ambitious target to end plastic pollution in packaging

Gabriela Mello

SAO PAULO, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Brazilian beverages company Ambev SA has set an ambitious target of eliminating plastic pollution in its packaging by 2025, in a push that an executive said on Monday has the potential to generate approximately 1 billion reais ($239.09 million) in business.

Latin America's largest brewer is partnering with stakeholders, including suppliers, recycling cooperatives, startups and universities to have all its beverages either in returnable packaging or made of 100% recycled material.

"Today 40% of our beers already use returnable packaging, but as we made progress our dream got bigger and we decided to end plastic pollution in our packaging," Ambev's vice-president of sustainability and supply chain, Rodrigo Figueiredo, said in an interview.

He did not say how much it would cost.

The new target, which is part of a broader effort by parent company Anheuser Busch InBev, follows a global trend to step up recycling and phase out plastic containers, as consumers shift towards greener alternatives.

In October, the Brazilian subsidiary of AB InBev announced its first water in aluminum cans, AMA, which according to Figueiredo is likely to be distributed in February.

Ambev has invested a total of 17.5 billion reais between 2014 and 2018 in multiple initiatives to adopt even more eco-friendly practices, including projects to have all of its operations run by renewable energy sources by 2025.

More recently, the company signed a 600 million reais deal with a private equity group to build a wind farm that will supply renewable energy to all of its beverage plants in Northeastern Brazil, as well as to its five Budweiser breweries across the country.

Last year, Ambev teamed up with 10 startups, totaling up to 3 million reais in agreements.

($1 = 4.1826 reais) (Reporting by Gabriela Mello; editing by Nick Macfie)