Lion has announced it will reduce the two largest sources of plastic in its packaging – plastic shrink-wrap and plastic labels on beer bottles.

The brewery said the decision will remove more than 630 tonnes of plastic per year from circulation.

Lion’s head of sustainability Libby Davidson said that Lion’s first step would be to remove plastic shrink-wrap from its beer packaging within the next two years, meaning the plastic shrink-wrap currently found on six packs of cans and bottles for brands such as XXXX, Tooheys, and James Boag’s would be eliminated completely by the end of 2023.

The second step is to transition away from plastic labels on beer bottles and replace these with sustainable alternatives such as biodegradable labels or paper alternatives by the end of the decade.

“There is no doubt this is an aggressive strategy. We have challenged ourselves and taken a number of steps further than many other players in our industry by putting forward a detailed and transparent commitment with clear objectives and timeframe,” Davidson said.

“Lion has been a pioneer in sustainable packaging. We were the first major Australian brewer to stop using plastic rings in six-packs, and we’re already closing in on a goal of 100 per cent recyclable plastic packaging and 50 per cent recycled content.

“But we can go further, and we’ve identified an opportunity here to address two significant sources of plastic in our supply chain.”

Over the next 12 months Lion said it will work with packaging suppliers to confirm alternatives to shrink-wrap for all product lines by the end of 2023.

The use of shrink-wrap around six-packs of cans, as an example, will cease completely by the end of this year, with stubbies and long necks to follow, the brewery said, who added the combined effect of the two initiatives will cut their plastic use in the market by more than half. For the XXXX brand alone, removing shrink-wrap will reduce its total plastic use by 70 per cent by 2023 it said.

Davidson said that the decision reflected Lion’s commitment to do the right thing for the long-term and create a positive environmental legacy.

“As Australia’s first large-scale carbon-neutral brewer, Lion is a leader in sustainability within Australian industry and the FMCG sector.

“We’ve been conscious of the environmental impact of our packaging for a long time and have been taking deliberate steps to reduce this impact. This is a significant acceleration in a journey we have been on since 2010 when we were the first brewer to begin removing the notoriously damaging plastic rings from our products.

“For more than 20 years we have invested to improve our packaging and worked to reduce litter and increase the recycling of our bottles and cans.”

More recently, Lion has partnered with REDcycle to promote soft plastic recycling, and while the transition is underway consumers can continue to recycle shrink-wrap packaging from Lion products through REDcycle at major supermarkets right across Australia.

This is an edited version of a media release distributed by Lion.

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