The £16m ($21m) investment in plastic reduction will see flagship brand Guinness and fellow beer brands Harp and Smithwick’s move to biodegradable cardboard for secondary packaging.
‘Beautiful, functional, sustainable’
The new beer packs will hit shelves in Ireland in August, followed by Great Britain in summer 2020. The new packs will be used in all of Diageo's export markets, which covers 100 countries and includes the US, Canada, continental Europe, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Korea, South America, Israel, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.
Diageo estimates that the amount of plastic removed is the equivalent of 40 million 50cl plastic bottles: which – if laid out – would stretch the 8,136km (5,055 miles) from London to Beijing.
Individual cans (including the widget inside cans of Draught Guinness) are already fully recyclable.
David Cutter, chief sustainability officer and president, global supply and procurement, said: “Consumers expect our packs to look beautiful, be functional, and sustainable. I am proud to announce this investment, through which we have been able to combine all three.”
A number of other beer brands have been seeking to reduce their use of plastic. Australian beer brand Cascade (Carton & United Breweries) has also switched to cardboard for its secondary packaging; Corona is trialling biodegradable six pack rings in Mexico and the UK; and Carlsberg's glue technology for six packs.