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Waste Not
Beverage Giants Up the Ante on Efforts to Reverse Plastic Pollution

Molson Coors, Dasani and Poland Spring all unveil ambitious plans to eliminate problematic single-use plastic from their packaging — and help keep consumers up to speed on what’s #NotTrash.

Molson Coors commits to 100% sustainable packaging, 50% reduction in absolute emissions by 2025

Today, Molson Coors Brewing Company launched a set of new goals to reduce plastics in its packaging, aiming for 100 percent 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 brewing giant made the new packaging commitments as part of the release of its 2019 sustainability 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 aligns with the Paris Agreement and has been verified by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

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 percent 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 IPCC report.

“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, an SBTi partner. “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:

  1. Make 100 percent 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 rings — produced by Gilbert, Ariz.-based manufacturer Footprint — are made from post-industrial recycled fiber and are 100 percent bio-based, recyclable and compostable in commercial composting facilities.

  2. Incorporate at least 30 percent recycled content in plastics packaging — while plastics comprise less than 2 percent of global packaging mix by weight, Molson Coors seeks to achieve at least 30 percent 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 percent 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.

  3. Improve recycling infrastructure 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 Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastics Economy Global Commitment.

  4. Reduce carbon emissions from packaging by 26 percent — 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 part of its effort to reduce its value chain emissions by 50 percent by 2025, Molson Coors set a target to cut packaging emissions by 26 percent, based on a 2016 baseline. The company 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 among the company’s efforts.

So far, the brewer says it has achieved zero waste to landfill at 17 of its brewing and manufacturing facilities — an improvement of three sites over the last year.

Molson Coors has invested more than $20 million over the past 10 years to “future-proof" its beer by helping its barley farmers manage climate-related risks, and providing financial incentives to encourage growers to adopt more sustainable practices and to collect and report their sustainability metrics to the company. As a result of these and other efforts, 99 percent of the its barley and hops growers in the US and the UK are aligned with sustainable growing practices.  

The company also 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.

“More than securing our business, we want to secure our planet,” Hunter says. “We want to ensure that every glass of beer we brew supports our communities and protects our environment for future generations.”

Poland Spring, The Recycling Partnership help consumers determine what’s #NotTrash

  Image credit: Instagram

Recent research shows that less than 30 percent of plastic bottles are currently recycled in the US, and less than half of recyclables in US homes get recycled by consumers. So, this week, Nestle Waters North America’s Poland Spring® brand spring water announced it has joined Molson Coors in joining forces with The Recycling Partnership, to tackle one of the core reasons for low recycling rates: Consumer confusion.

This month, Poland Spring and The Recycling Partnership launched their first Instagram recycling hotline to help to answer the common question, “Can I recycle this?” Consumers can post a photo of the item in question on their Instagram feed or in their stories tagging #NotTrash and @PolandSpringWtr to ask for help, and the companies will respond with an answer.

“Consumers are at the heart of everything we do and that means we are constantly listening to them to understand their needs and preferences,” said Yumiko Clevenger-Lee, VP and Chief Marketing Officer at Nestlé Waters North America. “What we’re hearing is that consumers are concerned and confused about plastic bottles. So, we’re working on innovations like our recently launched and nationally available Poland Spring ORIGIN in a 100 percent recycled plastic bottle. And we’re taking it a step further by working with organizations like The Recycling Partnership to help remove some of the confusion about recycling.”

Poland Spring is donating $150,000 to The Recycling Partnership to help improve curbside access to recycling and inspire more US consumers to recycle more, better. From August 12-23, in partnership with Z100’s nationally syndicated “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show,” every time listeners post a photo on Instagram stories or their feed of them recycling an emptied bottle with the cap on or post a question relating to what can be recycled, and tag #NotTrash and @PolandSpringWtr, Nestlé Waters North America will donate an additional dollar per post to The Recycling Partnership, up to $25,000. The promotion will air across the radio show’s network of 75 affiliate stations nationwide.  

“We are thrilled Poland Spring is joining The Recycling Partnership, and we’re excited about our collaboration on the #NotTrash campaign,” said Keefe Harrison, CEO of The Recycling Partnership. “Consumers play a critical role in reducing waste and improving markets for recyclable materials by recycling properly. Debunking common recycling myths empowers residents to do their part to recycle better, which improves their local recycling programs, helps create a healthier US recycling system, and is good for the planet.”

Poland Spring’s current packaging, which is made from PET plastic, is already 100 percent recyclable. In June, the brand made the industry-leading commitment to convert all its individual-sized still water bottles to 100 percent recycled plastic by 2022 — the brand’s 1L and 1.5L still water sizes have already made the transition. The brand is also expanding How2Recycle labels across all of its packaging, to remind consumers to empty the bottle, replace the cap and recycle when they’re done — another way Poland Spring has been helping to alleviate confusion and help make recycling easier.

In addition to packaging innovations, Nestlé Waters North America also supports recycling infrastructure through investments with organizations such as the Closed Loop Fund to help increase recycling capabilities throughout the U.S.

“We’re on a mission to eliminate the ‘single’ from ‘single-use’ plastics,” said David Tulauskas, VP and Chief Sustainability Officer at Nestlé Waters North America. “When valuable plastic like PET is not recycled, it can’t be broken down and reused to make new products, which is a waste of money and resources. On the other hand, as more consumers recycle their PET bottles, they increase the number of bottles that can be made with bottles and reduce the need for virgin plastic. Working with partners like The Recycling Partnership helps to make recycling as convenient as possible for consumers.”

Dasani expands use of recycled materials, other packaging innovations

  Image credit: Coca-Cola

Meanwhile, just weeks after Coca-Cola announced its departure from the Plastics Industry Association, its Dasani® brand of bottled water is furthering Coca-Cola’s global “World Without Waste” goals.

On Tuesday, Dasani announced a robust pipeline of sustainable packaging innovations to make its bottles and cans with an average of 50 percent recycled material by 2030. Updates to Dasani’s packaging line-up are designed to reduce plastic waste and increase the use of recycled and renewable materials in the US, while ensuring that all Dasani bottles continue to be fully recyclable. New innovations include:

  • The debut of HybridBottle™, The Coca-Cola Company’s first package in the US to be made with a mix of up to 50 percent plant-based renewable and recycled PET material (PlantBottle TM and recycled PET plastic). The HybridBottle adds recycled content alongside plant-based material to reduce the amount of virgin PET plastic used in the bottle (available nationally in mid-2020).

  • The expansion of package-less Dasani PureFill water dispensers with the addition of up to 100 PureFill units across the country beginning in fall 2019. The additional units are an evolution of the successful Coca-Cola FreestyleΤΜ platform, garnering more efficiencies and scale than the previous test version of PureFill by leveraging the proprietary Coca-Cola Freestyle technology.

  • The introduction of 16-ounce aluminum cans (launching locally in the Northeastern US this fall and expanding to other regions in 2020) and 16-ounce aluminum bottles (available in mid-2020).

  • Continued “light-weighting” across the Dasani package portfolio to support overall efforts to reduce the amount of virgin PET plastic procured by the Coca-Cola system.

  • The addition of How2Recycle labels to all packages to help educate and encourage consumers to recycle after use (rolling out on all Dasani packaging starting this fall).

“Today’s announcement is the largest sustainability initiative in the history of the Dasani brand,” said Dasani Brand Director Lauren King. “It’s rooted in providing sustainable options for our consumers, while doubling down on our commitment to minimize our impact on the environment. Over the last decade we’ve been on a journey to make Dasani more sustainable through new package design and innovation, and we are now accelerating these efforts in support of our company’s ambitious goals to significantly reduce packaging waste around the world by 2030. While there is no single solution to the problem of plastic waste, the additional package and package-less options we are rolling out today mark an important next step in our effort to provide even more sustainable solutions at scale.”

DASANI’s actions focus on testing and piloting multiple ways to deliver products that fit consumers’ preferences and behaviors as they seek more sustainable solutions in their everyday lives. Dasani currently plans to remove the equivalent of 1 billion virgin PET bottles from its U.S. supply chain in the next five years and will continue to look to expand these efforts.