“We share the goal of phasing plastic out for good, because we simply can’t afford its toxic impact anymore.”
Beer giant Corona has announced that it will pilot plastic-free six pack rings in select markets. The trial is part of the brand’s commitment with environmental organisation Parley for the Oceans to lead the industry with eco-friendly packaging. The rings are made from plant-based biodegradable fibres, with a mix of by-product waste and compostable materials, the company said in a statement. If left in the environment, they break down into organic material that is not harmful to wildlife, whereas the industry standard plastic six pack rings are made from a photodegradable form of polyethene that results in increasingly smaller pieces of plastic if not recycled.
Corona (@corona) claims that it is the first beer brand to trial 100% plastic-free six pack rings.
The trial will begin in the brand’s homeland of Mexico, where the plastic-free rings will be piloted in Tulum at the beginning of 2019. Corona also has plans to launch the rings in the UK next year.
“Our oceans are under attack. We are taking their life in rapid speed, destroying the chemistry that allows us to be here,” Cyrill Gutsch (@cyrillgutsch), CEO and founder at Parley for the Oceans.
He added: “Therefore, we are bidding on the few who take the lead in true change. The ones who are shaping the future with us.”
Gutsch said that Corona was helping to build a “material revolution” to help fight marine plastic pollution: “We share the goal of phasing plastic out for good, because we simply can’t afford its toxic impact anymore.”
Tracy Sutton, packaging design consultant at UK-based packaging consultancy Root, told Bio-Based World News that Corona’s decision to invest in trialling a better solution to the current fossil-derived plastic can pack rings should be applauded.
However, she also said the approach to the problem should be questioned.
“We can assume that the new material and construction uses a significant amount more material and will be much heavier and energy intensive to distribute at a global scale if rolled out compared to the current solution,” Sutton said.
She explained: “More importantly, access to effective collection and processing infrastructure in most parts of the world for organic recycling simply does not exist. In Mexico, the likelihood is that this item will be burned, landfilled, littered or dumped, with any organic value in the item, never being recaptured. The outcome in the UK is currently not much better.
“Never before has the temptation been stronger to develop public-pleasing campaigns that meet consumer demand for biodegradable, plastic-free materials. The EC Plastic Strategy advises against the use of such materials unless there is a specific system set up to collect and process the material because of some of the challenges outlined above.”
She concluded that no material "is an innovation if it is launched into the market when there is not sufficient infrastructure to recycle it".
Cyrill Gutsch, CEO and founder at Parley for the Oceans, will be speaking at the World Bio Markets Conference, the leading assembly for the bio-based economy, in April next year in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.