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Corona Goes Plastic Net-Zero

Photos from AB InBev press-release

If you’d like to drink a Corona beer, it now comes with a twist. And it’s not a lime. It’s a net-zero plastic footprint that the beer brand has just achieved recovering more plastic from the environment than releasing into it.

According to the brand, it’s the first global beverage brand to do so, which may put more pressure on other drink brands going forward. The Anheuser-Busch InBev brand of Mexican beer is removing all plastic rings from its export packaging by the end of 2021. It also reduced plastic in all areas of its production and distribution chain. In addition, the brand made a major investment in a Mexican plastics recycling facility Mexico Recicla.

Photos from AB InBev press-release

The evaluation was made by South Pole, a sustainability consulting firm with headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. The South Pole, in partnership with several other firms, has developed Guidelines for Corporate Plastic Stewardship against which production and distribution of Corona was assessed. 

Those guidelines allow companies to improve their credibility and transparency when reporting their plastic footprint. They help them better understand how to increase the circularity of their plastic use and reduce plastic waste by identifying specific actions such as designing recyclable materials, increasing the collection of those, and finding a means to place them back into the production chain.

“As a brand born at the beach and deeply connected with nature, Corona has a responsibility to do all it can to be an ally to our environment and our oceans,” said Felipe Ambra, global vice president of marketing at Corona. “Becoming the first global beverage brand with a net-zero plastic footprint is the latest in Corona’s broader ambition to help protect the world’s oceans and beaches from plastic pollution.”

Corona wants to eliminate its plastic footprint entirely in the long run. To that end, the company is looking for entrepreneurs to provide them with innovative ideas and technologies. It has launched the Corona Plastic Free Challenge, which offers $100,000 per startup to build and scale new projects to reduce or eliminate plastic. Challenges include finding replacements or alternatives for plastic liners in bottle caps, and removing and replacing the plastic stretch film that is used to wrap pallets for transportation.

Corona is also active in other sustainability projects. To date, it has made over 1,400 clean-ups, engaged more than 68,000 volunteers, and removed plastic waste from over 44 million square meters of beach.

Corona’s parent AB InBev, which also owns beer brands Budweiser and Stella Artois, also announced that it has developed the world’s lightest beer bottle. The bottle has a lightweight long neck and is 30g lighter than a standard beer bottle. The company said this will cut its carbon footprint by 17 percent in comparison to other bottle variants – an equivalent of taking 62,000 cars off the road annually.

The rollout is planned across all of its glass production in Europe but will start with its “one-way” bottles that are not returnable. The company then plans to develop a lighter version of its returnable bottles as well. The giant brewer’s ultimate goal is to achieve a 25 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2025. This includes making 100 percent of its products in either returnable or recyclable packaging by the same year.

“Light weighting our bottles has been a priority for many years at AB InBev and this new, lighter bottle is an important environmental and technological breakthrough, allowing us to decrease the carbon footprint of the glass bottle,” explained Frederik De Graaf, global director of packaging technology development at AB InBev. “This success is the fruit of intensive collaboration with our external glass partners, having shared knowledge and worked together on new glass coatings, new glass mold coatings, and state-of-the-art converting to strengthen the glass.”

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