Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I is the latest producer to announce plans to eliminate plastic rings from all of its products.

The brewer has invested £6.3 million in “green technology”, which it said will remove 850 tonnes of plastic from the market annually, ensuring its beer brands – including Stella Artois, Budweiser and Bud Light – will be free from plastic rings by the end of 2020.

The removal of 850 tonnes of plastic includes 250 tonnes of plastic rings, previously used to hold packs of beer cans together (comparable to 117 million plastic rings in total), and 600 tonnes of shrink film, normally used as tertiary packaging around trays used in the shipping of beer packs.

The company said the removal of plastic rings from all of its UK products includes the Stella Artois pint can four-pack, which is the nation’s biggest selling small pack format.

Paula Lindenberg, president of Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, said: “Protecting our natural resources and operating efficiently is crucial for our business, as well as the communities we live and work in. This is why we have spent the past decade investing in circular packaging initiatives around the world to close the loop and reduce waste. We are proud of the work we have already done so far, but we realised more needed to be done to address the issue of single use plastics. This announcement ensures that the UK’s favourite beers will soon come in recyclable paperboard packaging, so consumers can make even better choices each time they shop. This is another important step towards a more sustainable future, as we move towards brewing our biggest beer brands with 100% locally-sourced barley and 100% renewable electricity from solar power.”

Environment Minister, Rebecca Pow said: “Blue Planet II shone a harsh spotlight on the devastating impact plastic pollution has on our world. Through our landmark Resources and Waste strategy, we are working to eliminate all avoidable plastic waste and we have made real progress. But we can’t turn the tide on plastic pollution alone so I am hugely encouraged to see a major company like Budweiser Brewing Group UKI making substantial investment in green technology to significantly cut its use of plastic by over 850 tonnes a year, the equivalent weight of 67 double decker buses.”

In order to reach its target by the end of 2020, Budweiser is restructuring and reconfiguring production at its two main UK breweries in Magor, South Wales and Samlesbury, Lancashire.

Elise Dickinson, head of innovation, said: “Making some of the UK’s best-selling beers means that we produce almost 17 million cans per week, so we need technology that can be scalable, as well as efficient to keep up with demand. This new packaging will allow us to produce up to 2,000 cans per minute in a recyclable paperboard “clip”, called a Keel Clip. We will be reconfiguring our entire canning production lines in both of our main breweries to introduce this machinery and expand overall paperboard packaging capacity, so that we can ensure all plastic rings are eliminated.”

The announcement follows the news that C&C Group has also unveiled plans to cut plastic rings and shrink wrap across its British cider portfolio, including Magner’s and Orchard Pig, removing almost 250 additional tones of plastic from the UK market.