Brewer AB InBev has started using surplus barley to make greener packaging for its Corona beer brand.
Barley straw, which is a leftover substance from farmers’ harvests, is included in the drinks company’s unique pulping process. AB InBev combines it with 100% recycled wood fibers to make paper board that relies on fewer resources than traditional packaging manufacturing.
Describing the material as a circular form of packaging, Corona will use it to hold its six-packs, which are sold around the world. AB InBev, which has been developing the technology and operations to make this a reality over the last three years, will assess if the greener packaging can be rolled out to its other brands.
AB InBev has calculated that turning barley straw into paper fiber uses 90% less water in its production than the traditional virgin wood process, along with less energy and fewer harsh chemicals. It said using leftover barley straw is also far more productive than the equivalent area of woodland, and Corona acknowledged this could be a step towards eliminating the need for virgin trees and raw material in its supply chain.
Felipe Ambra, global vice president of marketing at Corona, called the move a “first step in reinventing the future of packaging for our industry”.
Keenan Thompson, director of packaging innovation at AB InBev, added: “We’re excited to finally launch this new packaging innovation we’ve been developing over the past three years.
“At AB InBev we are continually pushing boundaries by developing scalable solutions. Today is a proud moment for us, not only are we providing an opportunity for farmers but we’re also delivering a more mindful solution to the consumer.”
The new packaging was launched last week with an initial 10,000 six-packs rolling out as a pilot in Colombia. This will be followed by its introduction to the Argentina market later in 2021, but the ambition is for the greener packaging to be a global offering.