The drinks giant announced today it will be investing £16m to replace plastics currently used in its beer packaging with “100% recyclable and biodegradable cardboard”.
The investment will enable the future removal of plastic packaging such as ring carriers and shrinkwrap from multipacks of beer including Guinness, Harp and Smithwicks.
It will reduce Diageo's plastics usage by 400 tonnes annually, the equivalent of 400m 500ml bottles, according to the company.
Sustainably-sourced cardboard will be used to replace ring packs and shrinkwrap packaging, in a response to mounting global concerns over the impact of plastics on marine life and ocean plastic pollution.
The new packaging will be rolled out in Ireland from August 2019, and the plastic-free packaging will be rolled out globally in 2020.
Mark Sandys, global head of beer, Baileys and Smirnoff for Diageo, said: “We already have one of the most sustainable breweries in the world at St. James’s Gate, Dublin and we are now leading the way in sustainable packaging."
He added: “This is good news for the brand, for our wider beer portfolio and for the environment.”
Diageo exports Guinness and other beers to regions including the US, Canada, Europe and China. Individual cans are already fully recyclable.
David Cutter, Diageo’s chief sustainability officer and president, global supply and procurement, said: “Consumers expect our packs to look beautiful, be functional, and sustainable."
He added: “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.”
In 2018, Diageo announced its plastics targets for 2025 to ensure 100% of plastics used are widely recyclable, reusable or compostable and to invest in circular economy opportunities.
It is one of a number of drinks companies taking action over plastics.
Last year, Carlsberg announced that it would be replacing plastic in its multipack packaging with recyclable glue.
The company said the use of glue in its “snap packs” would reduce plastic packaging use by 76%.