Corona to pilot new beer packs made using barley

CORONA is introducing a new circular form of packaging for six-packs which harnesses surplus barley straw to create a sustainable paper solution.

The drinks giant said it is using technology and processes three years in the making by parent company AB InBev’s Global Innovation and Technology Center (GITEC).

The technology ‘reimagines’ how to use barley, Corona explained, giving the beer ingredient new life as a sustainable packaging solution. Barley seed will continue to make the beer, but barley straw, a leftover from farmers’ harvests, will now be used through a pulping process built to handle its relative fragility.

Combined with 100% recycled wood fibers, Corona added that the process creates a paper board to produce new packaging that is as ‘strong and durable’ as a regular six-pack, but more environmentally friendly.

Turning barley straw into paper fiber is said to use 90% less water in its production than the traditional virgin wood process, along with less energy and fewer harsh chemicals. Corona said the use of leftover barley straw is also more productive than the equivalent area of woodland.

Upon completion of the pilot, AB InBev will review rolling out the technology to other brands.

Felipe Ambra, global VP 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, added, “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.”

The new packaging will launch 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.