The £6.3m ($7.8m) investment will see a total of 850m tonnes of plastic removed from beer packaging - 250 tonnes of plastic rings on beer cans and 600 tonnes of shrink film used in shipping - the equivalent weight of 67 double decker buses.
Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I will restructure and reconfigure production at its two main UK breweries in Magor, South Wales, and Samlesbury, Lancashire. This will upgrade three canning lines so they can produce alternatives to plastic, including Keel Clips, a new technology which uses recyclable paperboard to create a lighter weight pack, as well as wraps and boxes.
Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I – the trading name of AB InBev UK Limited and a subsidiary of AB InBev - produces over 870 million cans of beer a year.
Elise Dickinson, Head of Innovation at Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I said: “Making some of the UK’s best-selling beers means that we produce almost 17 million cans per week, so we need technology that can be scalable, as well as efficient to keep up with demand.
"This new packaging will allow us to produce up to 2,000 cans per minute in a recyclable paperboard “clip”, called a Keel Clip. We will be reconfiguring our entire canning production lines in both of our main breweries to introduce this machinery and expand overall paperboard packaging capacity, so that we can ensure all plastic rings are eliminated.”
C&C Group, a key distribution partner for Budweiser Brewing Group, will also cut plastic rings and shrink wrap across its British cider portfolio, including Magner’s and Orchard Pig, removing 250 additional tonnes of plastic.
The changes will begin to roll out from March 2020, starting with the Magners 18-can pack.
Budweiser Brewing Group’s goals also include making 100% of its packaging returnable or made from majority recycled content by 2025.