Heineken has decided to refresh its parts by getting rid of single-use plastic rings and shrink wrap
There can be no denying that plastic is a huge problem for the environment, a problem that requires urgent and sustained attention. Just last week, a baby sperm whale that washed up on a beach in Wales was found to have plastic sheeting and other litter in its stomach.
The beverage industry bears a particular burden of guilt – we’ve all seen those distressing images of turtles with plastic pack rings around their necks. So, it’s really refreshing to hear that Heineken wants to stop its products reaching quite so many parts by changing its approach to single-use packaging.
From next year, the Dutch company will be rolling out new recyclable cardboard toppers to hold together multipacks, replacing the plastic rings known as hi-cones or yokes. The change will be seen on Heineken, Foster’s and Kronenbourg 1664 multipacks from next April, followed by the firm’s other brands – including Strongbow, Bulmer’s, Red Stripe and John Smith’s – by the end of 2021.
Heineken has invested £22 million in the technology to make this production change, which will see the removal of 517 tonnes of plastic from its brands.
The company’s marketing chief, Cindy Tervoort, told The Guardian: “It’s what our customers want and expect, and we have been working on and testing this innovation for three years.”
If the change has indeed been driven by customer demand, this is very encouraging news for the future of our planet. Heineken produces 530 million cans in the UK alone every year – the company has 190 world markets – so this will be a very visible change in the drinks industry.
The lesson here seems to be: if you want change, vote with your feet and make your voices heard. It seems that big business is prepared to listen to consumers’ environmental concerns, as long as we speak up.