Drinks giant Diageo is getting rid of plastic packaging on its Harp and Smithwick’s brands as well.

By Mike Pomranz
Updated April 15, 2019
Credit: sasar/Getty Images

In 2018, plastic straws bore the brunt of growing sentiment against single-use plastics. But straws are just one form of plastic waste, even if you narrow the scope down to beverages. And though drinking beer with a straw might sound ridiculous, beer has its own plastic problem: Multipacks are often held together with plastic like six-pack rings or wrappings. Plenty of brands large and small have been seeking ways to remove this waste: In September, Carlsberg launched a new system that held cans together with glue; in November, Corona began testing plastic-free rings. Today, Diageo has joined the movement away from plastic: The drinks giant has announced it will be removing plastic ring carriers and shrink wrap from its beer products which include Guinness, Harp, and Smithwick’s.

Of course, multipacks have to be held together somehow: For Diageo, the solution will be “100-percent recyclable and biodegradable cardboard” which the company says “will reduce plastic waste by 400 tonnes per year, equivalent to 40 million 50cl plastic bottles.” The new sustainably-sourced paper-based packaging is set to debut in Ireland this August before being rolled out around the rest of the world starting in the summer of 2020. Diageo says this move is part of its goal to “ensure that 100 percent of plastics used are designed to be widely recyclable, or reusable/compostable” by 2025.

“Great packaging is essential for our products. Consumers expect our packs to look beautiful, be functional, and sustainable,” explained David Cutter, Diageo’s Chief Sustainability Officer and President, Global Supply & Procurement. “I am proud to announce this investment, through which we have been able to combine all three. We have been working tirelessly to make our packaging more environmentally friendly and I’m thrilled with this outcome for Guinness and our other global beer brands.”

Meanwhile, for Guinness drinkers wondering about other plastics the brand uses, Diageo specifically addresses at least one other part of the packaging. “Individual cans are fully recyclable, including the widget which is contained inside cans of Draught Guinness,” the company states.