Responsible packaging

04 Jul 14

24_06 -- Blog --Sustainable PackagingPackaging plays an integral role in the life of the products we produce, and we take pride in the quality and innovation of our packaging. As well as containing, preserving quality and affecting your enjoyment and experience of our products, the packaging we use also has a wider environmental impact.

As part of our ambition for a clean world where nothing goes to waste, our initiatives around sustainable packaging focus on reducing waste and carbon emissions. By reducing the weight of our packaging, reusing bottles and encouraging recycling, we can save money and raw materials and reduce pressure on local waste services. This also includes understanding the disposal options for our packaging, and considering water and energy savings wherever possible.

Minimising the impacts from our packaging is one of the key ways we can protect local environments.

We do this by focusing on the following aspects:

Redesign to reduce

In promoting sustainable design we’re always seeking opportunities to eliminate or reduce packaging.

Light-weighting’ is one of the ways in which we do this. ‘Light-weighting’ is an exercise where existing product packaging is redesigned to reduce the amount of material used while maintaining the integrity of the packaging itself. Lighter packaging uses fewer raw materials and less energy to manufacture.

In recent years the 340 ml ‘Giraffe’ bottle used in South Africa was redesigned to reduce its weight by almost 10%.

A number of light weighting initiatives have been undertaken which has meant the following reductions:

  • Brutal Fruit from 215g to 195g,
  • Sarita from 270g to 220g,
  • Carling Black Label from 195g to 185g.

Less packaging mass means reduced pressure on local waste services, which literally means less waste going into landfills. Increasing the amount of recycled content in our packaging also converts what could have been waste dumped landfills to useful product.

Recover to reuse & recycle

More than 80% of all the beer sold by SAB in South Africa is packaged in returnable containers. The remaining 20% is sold in convenience packs, in order to meet consumer demand.

At SAB, most of our beer is sold in returnable glass bottles  or cans. Both these materials are 100% recyclable. In fact, glass is one of the few materials that can be endlessly recycled.  In the case of cans, 72% of cans are recycled (recovery rate) compared to plastic at 30%.

It has been proven that recycling both cans and glass bottles has less environmental impact than producing them from scratch and the recycling facts prove this. Where bottles are still intact we collect and clean them, sending them through a rigorous sterilisation and cleansing process to ensure they are good as new.

In addition to bottles and cans, the plastic crates that you see transporting our products are designed with the environment in mind and are made durable enough to be re-used countless times, after which they can also be recycled.

Though beverage containers overall make up only 10% of total litter, we nevertheless promote education programmes and recycling actively through organisations like The Glass Recycling Company and Collect-a-Can. Our Soft Drinks Division, ABI, is a major funder of PETCO, South Africa’s Polyethylene Terephtalate (PET) recycling company.

Sustainability throughout

While we still maintain the highest quality standards of product packaging, we’re also taking steps to ensure that our entire value chain has as little impact on the earth as possible. You can read more about these initiatives here.