Beer maker Carlsberg enlists suppliers for 'upcycling' project

Comments Email Print
Carlsberg Breweries A/S Germany's RKW makes the shrink wrap film for Carlsberg beer cans.

Carlsberg Breweries A/S in Denmark has started an ambitious project with its suppliers to optimize its packaging for the purpose of “upcycling.”

The program is organized through the Copenhagen-based Carlsberg Circular Community and involves metal, glass, paperboard and plastics packaging companies. The plastics suppliers are RKW of Frankenthal, Germany, which makes shrink wrap for Carlsberg cans, and Petainer, the Peterborough, England-based main supplier of PET preforms for Carlsberg’s DraughtMaster draft beer keg.

A Cradle to Cradle approach is being followed by Carlsberg, which is working with Prof Michael Braungart, creator of the C2C concept, and EPEA in Germany. C2C promotes upcycling, in which materials are reused in a way that increases their value or benefit to the environment. 

Simon Hoffmeyer Boas, senior CSR manager at Carlsberg, said the project, which was launched in January, is in its first stage of assessing existing packaging for its potential to be optimized for upcycling. Extensive information is being gathered about materials and component chemicals down to the level of 100 parts per million, he told EPN. 

The process could show that some components used in the materials are not optimal from the C2C perspective. “What there will be at the end of the process is a positive list of materials and components,” he said.

Carlsberg Breweries A/S The multi-layer DroughtMaster container made by Petainer means a more complicated recycling and upcycling process.

There are technical hurdles in Carlsberg’s project, such as the challenge presented by the barrier technologies used in the DraughtMaster PET keg. Hoffmeyer Boas said the C2C assessment looks at a product in its totality and acknowledged the complexity involved in the assessment.

The project must also deal with complexity in the supply chain, with Carlsberg’s suppliers needing to consult their own suppliers for data. Hoffmeyer Boas said that in order to make progress in gathering the data, non-disclosure agreements between companies have been necessary. Data goes to EPEA and is not seen by Carlsberg.

In a statement, Annemieke Hartman-Jemmett, commercial strategy director at Petainer, said: “We’ve worked really closely with Carlsberg to optimize the design of the DraughtMaster keg, so it’s exciting to see them including this product as part of the Carlsberg Circular Community.”

The project is still at an early stage, so it is not yet clear what applications upcycled material would be used for, or how the project will change Carlsberg’s packaging materials.

Using recycled plastics in future packaging is a possibility, said Hoffmeyer Boas, when asked by EPN. The important point is that recycled material is optimized for upcycling, he said.