Heineken UK has rolled out an innovative, sustainable packaging across thousands of UK retailers, aimed at eliminating plastic from millions of cans. The company’s new cardboard topper, dubbed Green Grip, will replace the plastic rings on Heineken, Foster’s and Kronenbourg 1664 launches this summer. In addition to removing plastic, the new packaging minimises the use of materials and reduces waste. The Green Grip, alongside the removal of shrink wrapping on consumer packs, will eliminate over 517 tonnes of plastic annually – the equivalent of 94 million plastic bags. Heineken UK will overcome logistical obstacles caused by Covid-19 by using virtual technology to help install the machinery at its brewery in Manchester. The team here used smart glasses to collaborate with Italian engineers on the installation process and received virtual training on how to operate the machinery, enabling fewer people on the shop floor to adhere to social distancing guidelines. “This is a game changer – for so long, the plastic pack rings on cans of beer and cider have been rightly scrutinised,” Michael Gillane, marketing director, Heineken UK, said. “We have been working on a solution for several years – one that is durable, totally recyclable and completely plastic free. Importantly, this is an innovation that can be used at scale on hundreds of millions of cans every year. “After announcing our intention in November last year, we’re extremely pleased to launch Green Grip – our plastic-free, recyclable and compostable topper in UK supermarkets this summer, especially during such a challenging time.” She continued: “The easy decision would have been to postpone the launch, but that was never an option. The use of innovative technology, combined with the hard work of our team in Manchester, meant we stay on track to achieve our ambition to eliminate single-use plastic on our products from supermarket shelves. “This is a significant milestone in our journey, and we look forward to rolling the innovation out across the rest of our beer and cider portfolio in 2021.” James Bull, head of packaging at Tesco said: “We have plans to remove all non-recyclable and excess packaging from our business and are working with a number of brands to achieve this. It’s great to see Heineken UK eliminate plastic from its cans of beer – our customers want to use less plastic, so I’m sure they’ll appreciate this change.” Green Grip line brewing and operations director, Matt Callan added: “Introducing a brand new technology is challenging at the best of times, but doing so at a time of social distancing measures and when we’ve adapted our operations to meet heightened supermarket demand is a testament to the adaptability and determination of our brewery and project teams.
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