Heineken has vowed to remove single-use plastic rings and shrink wrap from billions of multipack cans. The company is now beginning to replace all of it’s plastic with a new eco-friendly cardboard alternative!

Plastic rings, often called hi-cones or yokes, are the go-to packaging device for beer and soft drink producers around the globe for more than 50 years. The rings hold together common multipacks of canned drinks, particularly beer.

These rings have massively contributed to the ever increasing amount of plastic pollution that finds its way into the oceans and they are a significant threat to marine life.

Thankfully, major beer producer, Heineken, are now trying to change this.

Photo credit: Heineken

A spokeswoman from the Marine Conservation Society said:

“This is an interesting development [from Heineken] and will help cut down the amount of plastic on our beaches and in our seas. These kinds of can yokes are regularly found on our beach cleans.”

Cutting Out Plastic Packaging

The new eco-friendly can holders are composed of recycled cardboard and are rigid enough to carry the weight of a multipack of canned drinks. Heineken states that adopting the cardboard alternative will eliminate over 500 tonnes of plastic from the packaging of its brands.

The Dutch company invested £22m in the new alternative and production facilities have been built at their sites in the UK. They aim that by April 2020, these sites will start to roll out the changes throughout the company’s most popular brands, including Heineken, Foster’s, and Kronenbourg 1664.

After the adoption of the product by its major brand, Heineken says that all of its other brands in multipack cans will change to the new material as well – household names such as Strongbow, Bulmer’s, Red Stripe, and John Smith’s. The company have stated that they wish to accomplish by the end of 2021.

The packaging has a finger hole to make it easier to carry the multipack. Photo credit: Heineken

The UK is the first of its 190 sites to introduce this new packaging. The move is seen as a huge step towards a plastic free future. The UK site alone produces 530 million cans per year across its many brands – Foster’s accounts for 150 million and Heineken 39.5 million.

The Demand For An Eco Alternative

There has been a lot of recent media attention on the world’s plastic pollution problem and the publish has backlashed the over use of plastic packaging. This reaction, quite rightly so, has prompted manufacturers and stockists to convene and take much needed action and convert to eco-friendly alternatives.

The head of marketing at Heineken, Cindy Tervoort, said:

“It’s what our customers want and expect, and we have been working on and testing this innovation for three years.”

Heineken claim that with the introduction of their new eco-friendly cardboard holders, carbon emissions associated with producing multipack cans will be cut by one third.

Other Brewers Finding Alternatives

Carlsberg have announced plans to replace their rings with recyclable, eco-glue. Guiness owner, Diegeo, has started to phase out plastic packaging from multipacks of its cans, and following the success, it has phased out the packaging from its brands Harp, Rockshore, and Smithwick’s and replaced it with cardboard packs.

Budweiser have said that by the end of 2020, it will be removing all single-use plastic pack rings from its entire product range of UK produced beer. This selection includes Budweiser’s bestselling brands such as Stella Artois, Budweiser, and Bud Light.