The sustainable paper packaging solution leverages technology and processes three years in development by AB InBev’s Global Innovation and Technology Center (GITEC). This technology reimagines how to use barley, giving the essential beer ingredient new life as a sustainable packaging solution.
Barley seed will continue to make the beer that consumers know and love, but barley straw, a leftover from farmers' harvests, will now be used through a unique pulping process built to handle its relative fragility.
Combined with 100% recycled wood fibers, this process creates a paper board to produce new packaging that is as strong and durable as a regular six-pack, but better for the planet – able to carry six cold beer bottles from the store fridge to the beach, but using far fewer resources along the way.
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, says Corona. Using leftover barley straw is also more productive than the equivalent area of woodland, and Corona sees this as one path forward to eliminate the need for virgin trees and raw material from their supply chain in the future.
The new packaging launches today, 18 March, on Global Recycling Day, with an initial 10,000 six-packs rolling out as a pilot in Colombia in March, followed by Argentina later in 2021 as Corona looks to scale the new solution globally. Upon completion of the successful pilot, AB InBev, Corona’s parent company and the leading brewer in the world, will review rolling out the technology to other brands.
Felipe Ambra, global vice president of marketing, Corona, said: “Corona is a brand born at the beach. We’re deeply connected with nature and appreciate all that it has to offer, so we want to continue to do our part to protect it. Our deep reverence for nature is what inspires our vision to become a sustainability leader in the CPG industry, because we want everyone to be able to keep enjoying paradise.
“Starting with our own packaging, we assessed where we could make changes within our production and supply chains to make a real difference. We are proud to announce this first step in reinventing the future of packaging for our industry.”
Keenan Thompson, director of packaging innovation at AB InBev, said: “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.”