Heineken UK said it was on track to eliminate plastic rings on supermarket packs of beer by the end of 2021 after announcing plans to roll out its 100% plastic-free cardboard topper across thousands of UK retailers this summer.
The topper, dubbed Green Grip, will feature on Heineken, Foster’s and Kronenbourg 1664 multi-pack cans before rolling out across the company’s entire beer and cider portfolio.
Brewers have been racing to develop alternatives to plastic rings which have come under scrutiny from campaigners for their negative environmental impact. In October, Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I announced plans to eliminate plastic rings from can packaging across its entire UK-produced beer range by the end of 2020 by investing in new technologies such as Keel Clips, which use recyclable paperboard to create a lighter weight pack.
Carlsberg UK’s new Snap Packs bond packs of beers together using an innovative glue technology that replaces the need for traditional, bulky plastic rings.
Heineken said the switch to the Green Grip, coupled with the removal of shrink wrapping on consumer packs of beer, will eliminate over 517 tonnes of plastic annually – the equivalent of 94 million plastic bags.
Michael Gillane, marketing director for Heineken UK, said: “This is a game changer – for so long the plastic pack rings on cans of beer and cider have been rightly scrutinised. We have been working on a solution for several years – one that is durable, totally recyclable, and completely plastic free. Importantly, this is an innovation that can be used at scale on hundreds of millions of cans every year.”
Greenpeace campaigner Nina Schrank said Heineken’s move to eliminate plastic “shows the kind of ambition we need from all food and drink brands and retailers”.