Carlsberg is replacing the plastic ring wrapping used to secure multipack beers with eco-friendly glue, reducing its plastic waste by up to 76 per cent.
The Danish beer brand's new Snap Pack utilises a "pioneering technology" to glue its cans together instead of using the plastic ring holders typically found around six-pack beverages, which pose a serious threat to wildlife.
According to Carlsberg's sustainability director, Simon Boas Hoffmeyer, the glue is very similar to typical everyday glues.
However unlike most ordinary glues, the substance used on the Snap Packs does not affect the aluminium recycling process in any way, so can be recycled along with the cans.
Glue is strong enough to hold eight cans
The glue is strong enough to fix together up to eight cans, but not so strong that the cans are difficult to separate.
As Hoffmeyer explained, the glue had to be durable enough to withstand the initial transportation in the Carlsberg brewery, the movement onto a lorry or train, the transportation in this vehicle to a distribution centre and finally the journey home with the consumer.
"This is quite a lot of stress on packaging, and that is why we trialled around 4,000 versions of the glue before arriving at a final recipe that worked," said Hoffmeyer.
Another challenge the creators faced was ensuring that the glue didn't leave a sticky residue that could make the cans uncomfortable to hold, or make them stick to the fridge. So once the user has disconnected the can, the glue stops being sticky.
Carlsberg says it could reduce plastic waste by 76 per cent
According to Greenpeace, an estimated 12.7 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans each year, with the debris choking, entangling or being ingested by sea animals.
Carlsberg claims that replacing ring holders with glue will not only reduce the amount of plastic used in traditional multi-packs by up to 76 per cent, but will also reduce plastic waste globally by more than 1200 tonnes per year – the equivalent to 60 million plastic bags.
"It's an important day for Carlsberg," said Carlsberg CEO Cees 't Hart. "We are working hard to deliver on our ambitious sustainability agenda and to help tackle climate change."
"Carlsberg's Snap Pack will significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste, and we look forward to giving our consumers better beer experiences with less environmental impact," he added.
New packaging will be rolled out worldwide
The new packaging will be released in UK stores this weekend. They will be distributed in Norway in late September, and in Denmark at the beginning of 2019, before being rolled out to all Carlsberg markets.
The Snap Pack is just one of the sustainable packaging solutions proposed by the beer brand. It has also changed the ink on its labels to improve recyclability and created a new coating on its refillable glass bottles to extend their lifespan.
While details of the glue recipe have been kept under wraps, Carlsberg hopes that other brands will follow suit and come up with new ways of making their products more eco-friendly.
"We really want to be first in the market with this, and to show that we are a part of the development to bring concrete solutions for sustainability to the market," Hoffmeyer told Dezeen.
Carlsberg also developing "more sustainable beer"
Hoffmeyer said the brand is also "in constant pursuit of better and more sustainable beer," revealing that a new type of eco-friendly bottle made from fibres is currently in development for 2019.
Carlsberg is the latest of several major brands that has launched initiatives to reduce its plastic waste. Among them is Adidas, which has used recycled ocean plastic in the making of many of its products, including swimwear and trainers.
Swedish homeware giant IKEA has revealed plans to remove all single-use plastics from its product range by 2020, while the Indian government has committed to banning the material from the country by 2022.