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Sustainable packaging

We believe we make some of the best drinks in the world, but we're also proud of the packaging that protects, preserves and sells our brands. We're committed to addressing the environmental impacts of our packaging while keeping its sense of celebration.

Our approach

People want the brands they enjoy to be in perfect condition when they buy them, and we want them to stand out on the shelf. But the packaging that plays such an important part in protecting and marketing our brands has environmental impacts throughout a chain that stretches from our suppliers, through the retailer, to the consumer and beyond.

We want to use packaging which combines the lowest possible environmental impact with protecting, delivering and presenting our products and brands – and we have adopted a global approach, focusing first on high-volume brands where our savings will have the most impact. In 2010 we set targets, using a 2009 baseline, to reduce average packaging weight, increase the recycled content of our packaging, and make all our packaging recyclable or reusable by 2015. This year, alongside steady progress against these targets, we published guidelines to reinforce this message.


Reducing packaging

We have set ourselves the target of reducing the average packaging weight of our products by 10% against a 2009 baseline.

This year, we saved 13,374 tonnes in packaging weight, a reduction of 1.6%. Since 2009, we have reduced the average weight of our packaging by 4.8%.

As an example, we saved more than 2,500 tonnes of packaging by replacing 10 million 200ml and 375ml glass bottles for our Captain Morgan brand with collapsible polyethylene (PET) containers at our Plainfield facility in Illinois, United States. And for the United Kingdom market, we lightweighted Blossom Hill wines from 415g to 390g per bottle, reducing total weight by 2000 tonnes. Weight reductions not only affect how much material we need to package our products, but also create other savings, especially in transport and associated carbon emissions.

Increasing recycled content

By 2015, we aim to increase the average recycled content across all packaging by 20% to 42%. Currently, average recycled content across all packaging is 35%, as reported last year.

80% of our cardboard packaging and 52% of aluminium cans are made from recycled material. However, glass makes up the majority of our packaging and the recycled content varies according to factors including the availability of 'cullet' – recycled glass which has been crushed and is ready for re-melting – and local recycling practices. The use of cullet reduces the energy required to make bottles as well as the impacts on virgin resources, and this is an area in which we recognise that we need to make further progress.

Our aim is to use more recycled and sustainably sourced virgin content in all our packaging, through better technology and by working with our suppliers.

Making packaging recyclable and reusable

Making our packaging recyclable reduces the risk that it will end up adding to the landfill problem. Levels of recycling infrastructure and awareness vary from market to market, so we tailor our approach to recycling according to what can be achieved locally, while globally we aim to eliminate the use of any materials that are harmful to the environment.

We are aiming to make all packaging 100% recyclable or reusable by 2015. This year, the proportion was 98.3%, compared to 97.7% in 2009.

For example, this year we redesigned the cartons for Johnnie Walker Red Label in the Asia Pacific region, removing an oil-based metallised plastic film (met-pol) that limited recycling in local facilities, and diverting 1,500 tonnes of cardboard from landfill.

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