MillerCoors testing biodegradable six-pack rings in Colorado

MillerCoors is testing biodegradable rings on select six-packs of Colorado Native beer as part of an effort to develop and refine more environmentally sustainable packaging across its portfolio of brands.

As part of a small test in Colorado, AC Golden, one of the company’s craft brands, launched in June the plastic-free fiber-based six-pack rings in a Denver-area retailer on four of its Colorado Native beers.

The rings are compostable, biodegradable and recyclable. Developed by Footprint, a Gilbert, Ariz.-based manufacturer that seeks to eliminate the use of plastics, the rings are a limited-time “test-and-learn” that will help MillerCoors gauge their long-term viability.

MillerCoors for the next few months will be gathering feedback from its retail partners and consumers to help determine if the idea is scalable across other brands.

“The design met all of our criteria for integrity and strength,” says Jason M. Kelly, senior manager of packaging innovation for MillerCoors. “This test-and-learn allows us to get it out there and in front of consumers as they pull it off the shelf, carry to the cash register, to their cars and into their homes.”

The test is part of a larger effort of MillerCoors and Molson Coors to help solve the global plastics waste crisis. Molson Coors also is working on packaging tests and delivery model pilots in other global markets. The goal is to reduce its carbon footprint and the amount of plastics in packaging.

With its heritage as the company that kickstarted the recyclable aluminum can revolution, MillerCoors always is on the hunt for ideas to make its packaging more environmentally friendly, says Kim Marotta, global senior director of sustainability and alcohol policy for Molson Coors.

“Improving our packaging is a large part of our plan to reduce carbon emissions by more than 20% across our value chain by 2025,” Marotta says. “We’re reaching a point with consumers, retailers and investors where we need to improve the amount of recycled content in our packaging, come up with new innovations to reduce plastics waste and deliver packaging that’s good for consumers and good for the environment.”

Molson Coors, which plans to unveil its broader sustainability strategy later this month, already has aggressive plans in place to improve its water efficiency, sustainably source its barley and eliminate landfill waste.

“For us, this all ties back to the circular economy. As (former Coors Brewing chairman) Bill Coors said, ‘Waste is a resource that is out of place,’” Marotta says. “Sustainability lives at the center of our culture. We truly believe it is a driver of how we can be first choice for our consumers and customers."