Molson Coors Brewing Company launched a set of new global packaging goals to reduce plastics in its packaging, aiming for 100% of its packaging to be reusable, recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025. It is also strengthening its goals to drive down packaging emissions, use more recycled materials in its plastic packaging and improve recycling solutions in its key markets. The global brewer made the new packaging commitments as part of the release of its annual sustainability report, 2019 Our Beer Print Report.
“As a global brewer with a strong family heritage, we have always taken seriously our responsibility to brew a more sustainable future,” Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter said. “Plastic waste poses a clear environmental challenge, and as a consumer-packaged goods company, we play an important role in helping to solve the global waste crisis.”
The report also details the company’s latest performance against its 2025 Our Beer Print sustainability goals and its recently approved science-based emission reduction target, which align with the Paris Climate Agreement and have been verified by the Science Based Targets initiative.
Science-based targets offer a roadmap for companies to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to a level of decarbonization required to limit global temperature increase to well-below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial temperatures. Molson Coors’ 2025 goal to lower absolute emissions by 50% within its direct operations was determined as ambitious enough to meet the requirements of the 1.5°C pathway – the latest and most aggressive recommendations set forth by the recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
“Congratulations to Molson Coors on having their emissions reduction targets validated by the Science Based Targets initiative,” said Cynthia Cummis, Director of Private Sector Climate Mitigation at World Resources Institute, one of the Science Based Targets initiative partners. “By setting a target for their operations that aims for the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement – to limit global warming to 1.5°C – Molson Coors are charting a path towards a sustainable and thriving future.”
Promoting innovative packaging solutions
The company’s new packaging strategy sets forth four clear goals:
Innovate: Make 100% of packaging reusable, recyclable, compostable or biodegradable.
The strategy includes plans to move from a five-layer PET bottle to a three-layer bottle in the US to enhance its recyclability.
Additionally, Colorado Native, one of the company’s craft brands, has become the first Molson Coors brand to test a new plastic-free, fiber-based six-pack ring for beverage cans. The eco-friendly rings are made from post-industrial recycled fiber and are 100% bio-based, recyclable and compostable in commercial composting facilities.
Accelerate: Incorporate at least 30% recycled content in plastics packaging.
While plastics comprise less than 2% of global packaging mix by weight, the company seeks to achieve at least 30% recycled content in its PET bottles, plastic film wrap and plastic rings.
In the UK, the business has set a goal of removing plastic rings from Carling and Coors Light cans by the end of March 2021, switching to 100% recyclable cardboard sleeves. The UK business also plans to remove the plastic film wrap from large multipacks by the end of March 2020, moving these packs into cardboard packaging.
Collaborate: Improve recycling infrastructure and support a better recycling system for communities, government and industries.
To support this target, the company has joined The Recycling Partnership, a group of 45 leading brands promoting more jobs in the circular economy, more material recovery and stronger, more equitable communities within the US. As a multinational company, Molson Coors is also taking the commitment global. The company has signed on to the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, which is a worldwide initiative led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with UN Environment that addresses plastic pollution and waste at its source by applying circular economy principles.
Climate: Reduce carbon emissions from packaging by 26%.
The brewer is also strengthening its goal to reduce carbon emissions from its packaging, which is the largest source of emissions across its value chain. As a component of its goal to reduce its value chain emissions by 50% by 2025, Molson Coors set a specific target to cut packaging emissions by 26%, based on a 2016 baseline.
Molson Coors is working collaboratively with its packaging suppliers to achieve its emissions reduction goal. The effort involves making continuous improvements to packaging type and materials, in addition to working together to promote the use of more renewable energy sources where possible.
Keeping a comprehensive approach
A key element of the company’s overall sustainability strategy is working toward a circular economy. Actions such as capturing clean water for reuse, turning wastewater into biogas for onsite energy, sending spent grain to be used for animal feed and cutting down the waste sent to landfills are driving the company’s efforts.
So far, the company has achieved zero waste to landfill at 17 of its brewing and manufacturing facilities, representing an improvement of three sites over the last year.
Molson Coors has invested more than $20 million over the past 10 years to help its barley farmers manage climate-related risks. In addition, as part of a commitment to source 100% of its barley and hops from sustainable suppliers in key growing regions, the company provides financial incentives to encourage growers to adopt more sustainable practices and to collect and report their sustainability metrics to Molson Coors. As a result of these and other efforts, 99% of the company’s barley and hops growers in the US and the UK are aligned with sustainable growing practices.
The company aims to continue to implement water stewardship programs and protect local water resources in partnership with others. Molson Coors has implemented long-standing water stewardship programs in collaboration with communities for its at-risk brewing sites to improve and maintain the health local watersheds.
Taken collectively, the company believes that these initiatives will help the company raise the bar on beer. “More than securing our business, we want to secure our planet,” states Mark Hunter. “We want to ensure that every glass of beer we brew supports our communities and protects our environment for future generations.”