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Carlsberg rolling out its answer to global plastic problem around the world

Alanna Petroff
Senior Economics Correspondent at Yahoo Finance UK

Danish beer brewer Carlsberg is going global with new eco-friendly packaging for six-packs that were first exclusively tested in the UK market.

Carlsberg Group’s ( CARL-B.CO ) chairman Flemming Besenbacher told Yahoo Finance UK that the new six-packs were well received in the UK in late 2018 and are now being rolled out in Norway, as well as his home market of Denmark. Beer-drinkers in other countries will begin seeing the new Carlsberg six-packs soon.

“The reaction from consumers was excellent [in Britain],” he said.

The Copenhagen-based brewer replaced the traditional plastic rings with tough glue that holds the beer cans together. The new technology took three years to develop and is expected to reduce the amount of plastic used in these multi-packs by up to 76%, according to Carlsberg.

“All businesses have to rethink the way they produce,” Basenbacher told Yahoo Finance UK last week, just hours after he won a prestigious environmental award at the t he  World Economic Forum (WEF)  in  Davos, Switzerland .

Besenbacher was honoured with a “Circular Economy Leadership” award at Davos for promoting sustainability in the Danish economy.

The new packaging is not about to solve the global plastics problem. But it’s considered a step in the right direction. Carlsberg, which also produces San Miguel, Brooklyn Lager, and a range of other popular beer brands, is so far only using this new packaging on its namesake beers. The company doesn’t yet have the capacity to use the packaging on its other beers.

“Some might say it’s just a drop in the ocean, but for Carlsberg these new innovations represent a big improvement on previous solutions,” Basenbacher said. “We will use recycled content in wrapping where plastic is still needed.”

The company also unveiled a new coating for its beer bottles last year in a bid  to extend their lifespan and, therefore, reduce their environmental footprint.

The new six-pack uses glue instead of traditional plastic packaging. Photo: Carlsberg

Besenbacher said that once the new glue packaging is rolled out in other countries, it could reduce plastic waste by more than 1,200 tonnes globally, which is “equivalent to eliminating 60 million plastic bags each year.”

The world produces about 335 million tonnes of plastic per year, according to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

Carlsberg sells its brews in more than 150 markets and employs about 41,000 staff globally.

The company is working towards having zero carbon emissions and zero water waste in 2030. Besenbacher said he remained “very optimistic” that the company would hit these goals, along with mid-term goals set for 2022.