Budweiser to pull plastic rings from UK beer

By Dan Colombini

- Last updated on GMT

The change will remove 850t of plastic from a range of brands annually
The change will remove 850t of plastic from a range of brands annually

Related tags Drinks Packaging & labelling

Britain’s best-selling beer brands Budweiser and Stella Artois have announced a multi-million pound investment to eliminate plastic rings from can packaging across their entire UK-produced range by the end of 2020.

Budweiser Brewing Group UK & Ireland has invested £6.3m in new green technology at breweries in Magor, South Wales, and Samlesbury, Lancashire, which produce over 17m cans of beer a week. The change will remove 850t of plastic from the market annually, according to the firm.

This total will include removing 250t of plastic rings previously used to hold packs of beer cans together – comparable to 117m plastic rings in total – and 600t of shrink film, normally used as tertiary packaging around trays used in the shipping of beer packs.

Part of industry global leader AB InBev, Budweiser Brewing Group has committed to meeting far-reaching Sustainability Goals embedded in its business, to preserve the natural resources needed to brew beer in the coming years.

“Protecting our natural resources and operating efficiently are crucial for our business, as well as the communities we live and work in,”​ said Paula Lindenberg, president of Budweiser Brewing Group UK & Ireland.

Single-use plastics

“This is why we have spent the past decade investing in circular packaging initiatives around the world to close the loop and reduce waste. We’re proud of the work we’ve already done so far, but we realised more needed to be done to address the issue of single-use plastics.”

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow added that through its Resources and Waste strategy, the government was working to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste, already driving down plastic bag use by 90% through the 5p charge.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola European Partners will end the use of plastic shrink-wrap, replacing it with cardboard. As a result, more than 30 million packs sold to consumers each year will no longer be wrapped in plastic.

The new cardboard multipacks will be introduced on four-, six- and eight-packs of cans across all brands, including Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Fanta, Sprite, Dr Pepper and Lilt. The packs will transition to cardboard over the next 18 months. Multipacks of ten cans or more are already wrapped in cardboard.


The plastic shrink-wrap currently used is recyclable. However, only 10%  of local authorities collect this material, whereas 98% accept cardboard as part of household recycling.

The shrink-wrap will be replaced with 100% recyclable, sustainably sourced cardboard, with either an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) certification.

The move is part of a wider initiative being introduced across Western Europe and will remove 4,000t of plastic from circulation across the region. 

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