Coors Light will move to eliminate plastic rings from its packaging globally where Molson Coors owns brewing operations starting later this year, becoming the largest beer brand in North America to make such a move.
The initiative, which comes under an $85 million investment from Molson Coors to upgrade brewery machinery, will also allow the company to transition the entire portfolio of brands it produces in the Americas away from six-pack plastic rings by 2025.
“Our business, and Coors in particular, has a long history of using packaging innovation to protect our environment, and today we are building on that rich legacy,” says Molson Coors CEO Gavin Hattersley. “Just as Coors led the way by pioneering the recyclable aluminum can, Coors Light will lead the way by moving out of single-use plastic rings in North America.”
The brand will begin advancing its six-pack packaging to fully recyclable and sustainably sourced cardboard-wrap carriers at the end of 2022, a key step for Molson Coors as it seeks to reduce its environmental footprint in line with its 2025 sustainability goals.
Once the transition is complete, Molson Coors will move more than 30 brands away from plastic rings, eliminating about 1.7 million pounds of plastic waste annually.
“We don’t believe buying beer should mean buying single-use plastic,” says Tracey Schenck, senior marketing manager for Coors Light. “As one of the largest beer brands in the world, we constantly evaluate how we can improve and evolve our packaging to meet environmental and consumer standards, and we are so proud of this step today. We hope it inspires others in the industry to do the same.”
The move to cardboard packaging follows similar moves by Molson Coors in the U.K., where last year it eliminated single-use plastic from its major brands, such as Coors and Carling.
And it comes as Molson Coors has redoubled its commitment to its U.N.-aligned sustainability goals that include making 100% of its packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. Today, 99.3% of its packaging meets that mark, with 98.5% of its consumer-facing plastic packaging containing at least 30% recycled content.
Introducing cardboard packaging required testing to ensure durability and stability, Schenck says. Molson Coors tested the new packs in market against changes in moisture and logistical considerations, such as how it stacks and travels. It evaluated how the package was integrated into retail environments and how consumers responded.
To mark its transition away from plastic, Coors Light is opening a pop-up store in New York City this week.
The “Plastic-Free Future Mart by Coors Light” – a sustainable pop-up concept store – envisions a future without plastic. Adults age 21 and up can stop by to see how the Coors Light-branded products, ranging from popcorn to laundry detergent, can be packaged without plastic. Everything in the store is made from sustainable materials, the brand says.
Select souvenir items from the Future Mart are for sale starting March 2, on shop.coorslight.com. On-site there will be plenty of prizes available for consumers to win.
Coors Light’s plastic-free shop is open March 2 to 6, from 12-7 p.m. ET, and is located at 603 Manhattan Ave. in Brooklyn.
“This is how we see the future,” Schenck says. “We invite the public and other companies to join us.”