IN a bold sustainable move, Diageo is investing £16m to reduce the amount of plastics used in its beer packaging by removing the plastic ring carriers and shrink wrap from its multi-packs of Guinness, Harp and Smithwick’s.

Diageo’s bottling and packaging plant in Runcorn will be up and running with the new packs from summer 2020.

The business is investing £8m in the facility, which has been operating since 1970 and has approximately 150 direct employees.

Currently less than 5 per cent of Diageo’s total packaging is plastic and this change will reduce the plastic usage by more than 400 tonnes per year.

This is the equivalent of removing 40 million 50cl plastic bottles from the world, which, if laid out in a row, would reach from London to Beijing.

The multi-can packs will be replaced by cardboard packs, which are sustainably sourced, recyclable and fully biodegradable. Individual cans are fully recyclable, including the widget which is contained inside cans of draught Guinness.

Mark Sandys, global head of beer, Baileys and Smirnoff for Diageo, said: “For 260 years Guinness has played a vital role in the communities around us. We already have one of the most sustainable breweries in the world at St James’s Gate and we are now leading the way in sustainable packaging.

"This is good news for the brand, for our wider beer portfolio and for the environment.”

Lucie Milburn, operations director at Diageo’s Beer packaging site in Runcorn, said: “Diageo’s facility in Runcorn plays an important role in the bottling and packaging of our beers, which are exported around the world.

"This latest investment in sustainable packaging is a reflection of the innovation and expertise of our team in Runcorn and Diageo’s commitment to invest in the site, which makes a valuable contribution to the local economy.”

David Cutter, Diageo’s chief sustainability officer and president, added: “Great packaging is essential for our products. "Consumers expect our packs to look beautiful, be functional, and sustainable.

"I am proud to announce this investment, through which we have been able to combine all three. We have been working tirelessly to make our packaging more environmentally friendly and I’m thrilled with this outcome for Guinness and our other global beer brands.”