Familiar plastic can holders used for lager and beer multipacks could be on their way out after global brewing giant Carlsberg revealed plans to replace them with recyclable glue.
In a world first for the beer industry, the Danish brewer is phasing in a new “snap pack” which it claims will reduce the amount of plastic used in traditional multi-packs by as much as 76%.
Plastic pack rings – known in the industry as hi-cones or yokes – are connected plastic rings used to hold together multi-packs of canned drinks, particularly beers. A standard packaging device for more than 50 years, they have become an environmental scourge – contributing to growing ocean plastic pollution and posing a threat to marine life.
The new cans will first appear in some Tesco branches in the UK from 10 September, followed by Norway.
Cans in four, or six, or eight-can packs are held together by tiny blobs of a strong glue, which has been designed to withstand a range of temperatures including storage, transportation and then refrigeration in the home. The cans audibly snap when pulled apart, and the glue can be recycled along with the aluminium can.
In the UK the change will initially involve Carlsberg Export, but the company says it will eventually be used across its entire drinks portfolio, including Tuborg and San Miguel.
The company says the changes will reduce plastic waste globally by more than 1,200 tonnes a year – the equivalent of 60m plastic bags. Plastic waste has become a charged issue, with TV programmes such as Blue Planet 2 exposing its impact on the oceans and regular warnings being made over the dangers of a global plastic binge.
Dr Sue Kinsey, senior pollution policy officer with the Marine Conservation Society, said: “This is an interesting development and will help cut down the amount of plastic on our beaches and in our seas. These kinds of can yokes are regularly found in small numbers on our beach cleans.
“During last year’s Great British Beach Clean we found around 100 over one weekend. They are a hazard to wildlife which can get entangled in them. Any steps taken to stop the flow of plastics to our oceans are to be welcomed.”