Molson Coors shrinks plastic packaging’s Beer Print

By Rick Lingle in Sustainable Packaging on December 03, 2019

The brewer talks sustainable packaging strategies and tactics including 3-layer plastic bottles, paper sleeve cartons, fiber-based multipack rings and more.

 

Molson Coors Brewing Co. introduced in August a set of new global packaging goals to reduce plastics in its packaging, aiming for 100% of its packaging to be reusable, recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025.

“As a global brewer with a strong family heritage, we have always taken seriously our responsibility to brew a more sustainable future,” said Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter. “Plastic waste poses a clear environmental challenge, and as a consumer-packaged goods company, we play an important role in helping to solve the global waste crisis.”

The company’s new packaging strategy has four main goals:

  • Innovate: Make 100% of packaging reusable, recyclable, compostable or biodegradable. The strategy includes plans to move from a five-layer PET bottle to a three-layer bottle in the U.S. to enhance its recyclability.
  • Accelerate: Incorporate at least 30% recycled content in plastics packaging. While plastics comprise less than 2% of global packaging mix by weight, the company seeks to achieve at least 30% recycled content in its PET bottles, plastic film wrap and plastic rings.
  • Collaborate: Improve recycling infrastructure and support a better recycling system for communities, government and industries.
  • Climate: Reduce carbon emissions from packaging by 26%, which includes both internal changes and external partnerships.
  • Managing the company’s entire sustainability program is Kim Marotta, global senior director of corporate responsibility, who points out that founder Bill Coors’ mantra of “waste is a resource out of place” has long been part of the company’s DNA. She’s well-suited for the heady task, having been hired in 2004 to develop a Corporate Social Responsibility strategy for Miller Brewing Co. during the MillerCoors U.S. years before being promoted to lead CSR globally at Molson Coors. “The purchase of MillerCoors by Molson Coors at the end of 2016 was a better opportunity to enhance our sustainability strategy including for packaging,” she says.

    That lead in 2017 to the introduction of the “Beer Print 2025” strategy, the company’s vision for the environmental, social and economic space. “Beer Print is the notion that every time a beer is lifted up, there’s an imprint left behind,” Marotta explains. “We want to make sure it’s a positive one on our communities and environment.”

    It also meant addressing internally the external outcry against a packaging material that is widely under siege, plastics.

    “There’s heavy pressure to eliminate the use of single-use plastics,” Marotta explains.“India was the first country to announce abandoning single-use plastics, which starts in 2020. Similar public sentiment and regulations are taking shape in the European Union that were soon followed by Canada as it moved faster toward abandoning plastics. San Francisco banned plastic bottles in their airport, and in many places plastic bags cost consumers extra.

    “As a consumer packaged goods company and global citizen, we need to tackle those issues related to the plastic crisis with new ideas, innovation, capital and new costs of goods sold if the solutions aren’t there. We’re working with our suppliers to increase recycled content in our plastic rings and shrink wrap and in PET bottle—it’s all about what works for consumers in local markets. Some plastics will remain, while others will be switched for other materials. We’re coming at it from different angles and making a lot of progress.”

    Among those promising angles that Marotta is most excited about is a development that she calls “a major breakthrough in plastic beer bottles.”

    Next: A better-to-recycle PET bottle and shrinking shrink wrap use

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    Rick Lingle

    Rick Lingle is senior technical editor of Packaging Digest. He’s been a packaging media journalist since 1985 specializing in food, beverage and plastic markets. He has a chemistry degree and has worked in food industry R&D for Standard Brands/Nabisco and the R.T. French Co. Reach him at [email protected] or 630-481-1426.

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