Molson Coors is aiming for 100% of its packaging to be reusable, recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025 as part of a new slate of sustainability goals unveiled today in its annual sustainability report.
The global brewer, parent company of MillerCoors, also committed to use more recycled materials in its plastic packaging, improve recycling efforts in key markets and reduce packaging emissions.
“As a global brewer with a strong family heritage, we have always taken seriously our responsibility to brew a more sustainable future,” says Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter.
Key elements of the company’s overall sustainability strategy, updated annually, include capturing clean water for reuse, turning wastewater into biogas for onsite energy, sending spent grain to farmers for use as animal feed and cutting down waste sent to landfills.
Molson Coors so far has converted 17 of its 28 brewing and manufacturing facilities worldwide to zero-waste-to-landfill, up from 14 last year. All seven of MillerCoors' major breweries in the United States are now certified zero-waste-to-landfill.
It also has invested more than $20 million over the past 10 years to help its barley farmers manage climate-related risks, including offering financial incentives to encourage farmers to adopt more sustainable farming practices. As a result, 99% of the company’s barley and hops growers in the U.S. and U.K. meet accepted benchmarks for sustainable growing practices.
Reducing its carbon footprint remains a key priority. Since 2016, the company has reduced carbon emissions from direct operations by 16%. But there’s more room for improvement, says Kim Marotta, global senior director of sustainability and alcohol policy for Molson Coors. The company has adopted emission reduction goals that were recently verified by the Science-Based Targets initiative, making it one of approximately 230 companies that are committed to bringing their carbon reduction targets in line with the requirements of the Paris Climate Agreement.
“We believe we have an obligation to step forward and work together to address the urgency of climate change,” Marotta says. “That’s why we’re aligning our business with the most ambitious goals of the agreement.”
Since packaging materials make up the largest part of the company’s carbon footprint, it is a key priority reflected in the new sustainability goals. In all, Molson Coors is seeking to cut packaging emissions by 26% by 2025.
Some of its efforts include working with its top 10 packaging suppliers to reduce weight and waste, both of which help reduce its carbon footprint. This year, for instance, it worked with Ball Corporation’s Fort Atkinson plant to reduce the weight of 12-ounce aluminum cans by 1%.
A major focus is reducing and eliminating the use of plastics. Of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic produced since the 1950s, some 79% has ended up as waste. “This is truly a global crisis, on land and in oceans,” Marotta says. “Global CPG companies like Molson Coors play an important role in helping solve the global plastic waste issue.”
Among its initiatives to reduce plastic:
- One of its U.S. craft brewers, Colorado Native, is testing a fiber-based six-pack ring made from post-industrial recycled fiber that is 100% bio-based, recyclable and compostable in commercial composting facilities.
- MillerCoors is working to move from a five-layer PET bottle to a three-layer bottle in the U.S. to improve its recyclability.
- Although plastics comprise less than 2% of the company’s global packaging by weight, Molson Coors plans to incorporate at least 30% recycled content in all of its plastic packaging, including PET bottles, plastic film wrap and plastic rings.
- In the U.K., it plans to remove plastic rings from Carling and Coors Light cans by the end of March 2021, switching to 100% recyclable cardboard sleeves.
- Also in the U.K., Molson Coors aims to remove the plastic film wrap from large multipacks by the end of March 2020 and move into cardboard.
- The company has signed on to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, a worldwide initiative led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that aims to address plastic pollution and waste at its source.
“More than securing our business, we want to secure our planet,” Hunter said. “We want to ensure that every glass of beer we brew supports our communities and protects our environment for future generations.”