Brewing giant Carlsberg is to replace the plastic can holders in its multi-packs of lager with recyclable glue.
The company says the dots of glue bonding its new “Snap Packs” are strong enough to withstand the journey from the shelf to the living room, but are brittle enough to easily break when twisted.
British drinkers will be the first to try the new cans as Carlsberg has chosen the UK market, which consumes 30% of its beer every year, to introduce the eco-friendly packaging.
The brewer settled on the new packaging after testing more than 4,000 different adhesive formulations over a three-year process.
It says the move will reduce its use of plastic to package the product by more than 75%.
Inventor Christopher Stuhlmann revealed at a launch in Copenhagen how a visit to a DIY shop helped convince him that his idea for the alternative packaging could work.
Mr Stuhlmann, who works for one of Carlsberg’s design partners, said: “The starting point was going to a hardware shop and buying all the adhesive I could get, all the glue that was there.
“Over the weekend I just glued things together and made a short video for my CEO and so the idea was born.”
The brewery has unveiled a replica of Copenhagen’s famous Little Mermaid statue – an artwork originally donated by Carlsberg’s founders, the Jacobsen family – made from the new Snap Packs.
Carlsberg’s head of sustainability, Simon Boas Hoffmeyer, said the company will reduce its plastic use by 1,200 tonnes a year – the equivalent of 60 million plastic bags – once the Snap Packs have been rolled out globally.
Mr Boas Hoffmeyer said: “It’s a little bit of magic. It’s glued together so you can’t actually see the packaging.
“It’s almost not there, and that is what is extremely exciting from a sustainability perspective.”
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has hailed it as a “big step” in efforts to tackle plastic pollution.
Bo Oksnebjerg, secretary-general of WWF Denmark, said the traditional multi-pack rings were a particular problem as they had the potential to trap animals and birds.
He said: “Our wildlife is drowning in plastic – and the problem is unfortunately growing considerably.
“We therefore need to act now. We need less plastic to end up in nature.
“That is why we consider it huge progress that Carlsberg is now launching solutions that significantly reduce the amount of plastic in its packaging.”
Carlsberg chief executive Cees ‘t Hart said he hoped competitors will use the same technology.
He said: “I think, frankly, in the area of environmental footprints we should not compete, we should not race each other, we should not make this a kind of competitive edge for us.”
As well as the glue, the brewer has also launched a series innovations designed to reduce its environmental footprint.
These include beer bottle labels made from recyclable ink, a coating technique to extend the lifespan of its refillable glass bottles and bottle tops that absorb oxygen trapped in the neck of the bottle to ensure the product stays fresher for longer.
:: Sky’s Ocean Rescue campaign encourages people to reduce their single-use plastics. You can find out more about the campaign and how to get involved at www.skyoceanrescue.com