Molson Coors strives for 100% reusable, recyclable, compostable or biodegradable packaging by 2025

Reusable is Number One on the list but nowhere to be found in the Molson Coors Sustainability Report

Molson Coors is targeting 100% of its packaging to be reusable, recyclable, compostable or biodegradable by 2025 as part of a new list of sustainability goals outlined in its new annual sustainability report. Spoiler alert, however, I didn’t notice any specific initiatives to act on reusability, in spite of it being the lead item in its INNOVATE “to do” list. (See the graphic above.)

 Like other leading consumer products companies, Molson Coors is taking significant steps to reduce its environmental impact. The company says it will use more recycled materials in its plastic packaging, improve recycling efforts in key markets and reduce packaging emissions, according to a press release.

“As a global brewer with a strong family heritage, we have always taken seriously our responsibility to brew a more sustainable future,” says Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter.

Pillers of the company’s sustainability strategy include capturing clean water for reuse, turning wastewater into biogas for onsite energy, diverting spent grain to farmers for use as animal feed and reducing the amount waste sent to landfills.

Molson Coors so far has converted 17 of its 28 brewing and manufacturing facilities worldwide to zero-waste-to-landfill, up from 14 last year. All seven of MillerCoors’ major breweries in the United States are now certified zero-waste-to-landfill.

Molson Coors sustainability report

The report’s emphasis is on making consumer packaging more sustainable by swapping from plastic to paper, lightweighting, more recycled cotent and composting.

It also has invested more than $20 million over the past 10 years to help its barley farmers manage climate-related risks, including offering financial incentives to encourage farmers to adopt more sustainable farming practices. As a result, 99% of the company’s barley and hops growers in the U.S. and U.K. meet accepted benchmarks for sustainable growing practices.

Reducing its carbon footprint remains a key priority. Since 2016, the company has reduced carbon emissions from direct operations by 16%. But there’s more room for improvement, says Kim Marotta, global senior director of sustainability and alcohol policy for Molson Coors. The company has adopted emission reduction goals that were recently verified by the Science-Based Targets initiative, making it one of approximately 230 companies that are committed to bringing their carbon reduction targets in line with the requirements of the Paris Climate Agreement.

“We believe we have an obligation to step forward and work together to address the urgency of climate change,” Marotta says. “That’s why we’re aligning our business with the most ambitious goals of the agreement.”

Since packaging materials make up the largest part of the company’s carbon footprint, it is a key priority reflected in the new sustainability goals. In all, Molson Coors is seeking to cut packaging emissions by 26% by 2025.

Reusable pallets and kegs not mentioned

Reusable pallets and kegs were not mentioned in the sustainability report, with the focus on greening consumer packaging, predominantly through lightweighting, swapping paper for plastic, and more recycled plastic content.  For many food and beverage producers, reusable packaging, including reusable pallets, plays a critical role.

Current initiatives by Molson Coors include working with its top 10 packaging suppliers to reduce weight and waste, both of which help reduce its carbon footprint. This year, for instance, it worked with Ball Corporation’s Fort Atkinson plant to reduce the weight of 12-ounce aluminum cans by 1%.

A major focus is on reducing and eliminating the use of plastics. Of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic produced since the 1950s, some 79% has ended up as waste. “This is truly a global crisis, on land and in oceans,” Marotta says. “Global CPG companies like Molson Coors play an important role in helping solve the global plastic waste issue.”

Taking aim at single-use plastic

Among its initiatives to reduce plastic:

  • One of its U.S. craft brewers is testing a 100% bio-based fiber six-pack ring that is recyclable and compostable.
  • It hopes to transition from a five-layer PET bottle to a three-layer bottle in the U.S. to make it easier to recycle.
  • While plastics represent less than 2% of the company’s global packaging by weight, it intends to incorporate at least 30% recycled content in all of its plastic packaging, including PET bottles, plastic film wrap and plastic rings.
  • In the U.K., it plans to remove plastic rings from Carling and Coors Light cans by the end of March 2021, converting to recyclable cardboard sleeves.
  • Also in the U.K., Molson Coors aims to remove the plastic film wrap from large multipacks by the end of March 2020 and move into cardboard.
  • The company is a signee of the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, a worldwide initiative led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation that aims to address plastic pollution and waste at its source.