The new packages come as consumers increasingly move to support brands they see as environmentally responsible, and companies work to offset their impact on natural environments as global warming fears and weather-related catastrophes rise.
“We believe that buying beer shouldn’t mean buying plastic,” Marcelo Pascoa, VP of marketing for Coors, said in a statement. “That’s why we’re taking a step toward making packaging even more sustainable, and with this achievement Coors Light will save 400,000 pounds of single-use plastic from becoming waste every year.”
Coors noted that 91% of plastic waste does not get recycled. Much of that winds up in oceans, where six-pack rings have proven especially hazardous for marine life, which can get tangled in the material or ingest it.
The move to more environmentally friendly packaging represents an $85 million investment from Coors, and would make it the largest beer brand in North America to move away from plastic rings. Coors Light finished 2021 as the second-largest beer brand in the U.S. measured by shipments with 6.3% market share, according to Beer Marketer's Insights.
Other beer brands in the Coors family where Molson Coors owns brewing operations will also remove plastic packaging in coming years as the company upgrades its packaging machinery.
In 2021, Molson Coors removed plastic rings across all major brands sold in the U.K., including Coors and Carling, and transitioned to recyclable cardboard sleeves. Molson Coors in Canada moved to more sustainable plastic rings in 2021 as an initial step, and as part of today’s announcement has committed to eliminating plastic rings entirely.
“Our business, and Coors in particular, has a long history of using packaging innovation to protect our environment, and today we are building on that rich legacy,” Molson Coors CEO Gavin Hattersley said in a statement. “Just as Coors led the way by pioneering the recyclable aluminum can, Coors Light will lead the way by moving out of single-use plastic rings in North America.”
Other beers have explored similar solutions. Saltwater Brewery, working with agency We Believers, in 2016 introduced a six-pack ring made of edible materials that won multiple Cannes Lions, including Gold in the Innovation category. Last year, Anheuser-Busch InBev debuted packaging for its Corona six-pack bottles made of recycled wood pulp and barley straw, a by-product of barley farmed for use in the beer. Those packages are currently available in South America.
The Plastic-Free Future Mart will be open March 2 through March 6, at 603 Manhattan Ave. in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood. The space will feature Coors Light’s new packaging, along with other items made of sustainable materials including brewery scraps. Its walls and fixtures will also be composed entirely of sustainable materials.
The moves click into a long history of environmental leadership at Coors, which in 1959 became the first beer brand to introduce recyclable cans. In 2017, Molson Coors set ambitious sustainability goals with a focus on water, climate and packaging. According to company goals, all of its packaging will be made from at least 30% recycled content by the end of 2025.