Corona beer is repurposing surplus barley straw from beer-making supply chains into new packaging material in a circular process targeting waste elimination.
Based on three years of research, the new process uses 90 percent less water, less energy and “behaves just like regular paper when recycled.”
Corona is the first global brand to leverage technology and processes by AB InBev’s Global Innovation and Technology Center (GITEC). The “unique pulping process” is built to handle the relative fragility of the upcycled ingredient.
The new packaging will launch today 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.
“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,” says Felipe Ambra, global vice president of marketing at Corona.
Combined with 100 percent recycled wood fibers, this process creates a paperboard to produce new packaging that is as strong and durable as a regular six-pack, but better for the planet. It is able to carry six cold beer bottles from the store fridge to the beach, but uses far fewer resources along the way.
Upon completion of the successful pilot, AB InBev will review rolling out the technology to other brands.
Cutting down water and chemical usage
Turning barley straw into paper fiber uses 90 percent less water, along with less energy and fewer harsh chemicals.
Using leftover barley straw is also pegged as “far more productive than the equivalent area of woodland.” The company sees this as one path forward to eliminate the need for virgin trees and raw material from their supply chain in the future.
“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,” says Keenan Thompson, director of packaging innovation at AB InBev.
Upcycling is the new recycling
In line with Innova Market Insights’ third top packaging trend for 2021, “Fiber-based Frenzy,” innovation in plastic-replacement fiber-based and upcycled solutions is booming as brands explore plastic waste escape routes and new connections with the enlarging eco-conscious consumer base.
In this space, edible spoons by Spoontainable provide a circular and environment-neutral alternative to single-use cutlery, upcycling unused cocoa shells and oat husks in the process.
Cargill and renewable energy company Virent, meanwhile, are working together to evaluate the use of Cargill’s corn dextrose as a feedstock for Virent’s BioForming technology, producing raw material for packaging solutions. The companies are demonstrating this technology’s applicability in upcycling waste streams from any plant source.
Edited by Benjamin Ferrer
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