Guinness’ old slogan — “Guinness is good for you” — might not technically be true, but Guinness is at least trying to be good for the planet. Diageo, the world’s largest alcohol beverage company and owner of Guinness, announced that they will be drastically reducing the amount of plastic used in their beer packaging.
As part of the change, they will shift to 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable cardboard to replace plastic. Guinness will no longer use plastic rings to secure multipacks, which will instead be bound with recyclable and biodegradable cardboard containers. Not only will this make the dark beer easier to access — no more yanking cans from those stretchy plastic holders — but it will save oceans and landfills from the menace of plastic rings.
“We already have one of the most sustainable breweries in the world at St. James’s Gate and we are now leading the way in sustainable packaging,” said Diageo’s global head of beer Mark Sandys in the announcement. The company is investing 16 million pounds ($21 million) in the initiative.
Currently, less than 5 percent of Diageo’s total packaging is plastic. But the upcoming changes — which will also take effect for their other beer brands, Harp, Rockshore, and Smithwick’s — are expected to reduce plastic waste by the equivalent of 40 million 500-milliliter plastic bottles each year.
Guinness cans (including the widget inside all cans of Draught Guinness) are 100 percent recyclable, and the company hopes that this reduction in plastic will reduce waste even further.
The new packaging will roll out in Ireland first, where Guinness’ original brewery has been running since Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease for the Dublin location in 1759. Shelves in Ireland will have the new containers starting in August 2019. Great Britain and the rest of the global market should expect to see the cardboard in summer of 2020.
Guinness isn’t the first beer to ditch the environmentally unfriendly plastic rings. Carlsberg Group announced their eco-friendly Snap Pack packaging made of recyclable glue in September 2018, and Corona announced its plan to try out biodegradable six-pack rings in November 2018. Now with Diageo following suit, hopefully Guinness also won’t be the last. Beer is getting one step closer to being one of the more eco-friendly items you’re buying at the grocery store.