Beer drinkers will soon be able to enjoy their favourite brew out of cans that are not only infinitely recyclable but made from responsibly produced, low-carbon aluminium.
Mining giant Rio Tinto and Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), the world’s largest brewer, have formed a global partnership to deliver a new standard of sustainable aluminium cans.
In a first for the canned beverage industry, the two companies have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) committing to work with supply chain partners to bring AB InBev products to market in cans made from low-carbon aluminium that meets industry-leading sustainability standards.
Initially focused in North America, the partnership will see AB InBev use Rio Tinto’s low-carbon aluminium made with renewable hydropower along with recycled content to produce a more sustainable beer can.
This will offer a potential reduction in carbon emissions of more than 30 per cent per can compared to similar cans produced today using traditional manufacturing techniques in North America.
The partnership will also leverage outcomes from the development of ELYSIS, a disruptive zero-carbon aluminium smelting technology.
The first one million cans produced through the partnership will be piloted in the United States on Michelob ULTRA, the fastest-growing beer brand in the country.
Rio Tinto chief executive J-S Jacques said the company is pleased to continue to partner with customers in the value chain in an innovative way to meet their needs and help produce sustainable products.
“Our partnership with AB InBev is the latest development and reflects the great work of our commercial team,” he said.
Presently, roughly 70 per cent of the aluminium used in AB InBev cans produced in North America is recycled content. By pairing this recycled content with low-carbon aluminium, the brewer will take a key step towards reducing the carbon emissions in its packaging supply chain, which is the largest contributor of emissions by sector in the company’s value chain.
Ingrid De Ryck, Vice President of Procurement and Sustainability, North America at AB InBev commented that AB InBev is constantly looking for new ways to reduce the company’s carbon footprint across its entire value chain.
“With this partnership, we will bring low-carbon aluminium to the forefront with our consumers and create a model for how companies can work with their suppliers to drive innovative and meaningful change for our environment,” she said.
Rio Tinto Aluminium chief executive Alf Barrios added: “This partnership will deliver cans for AB InBev’s customers that pair low carbon, responsibly produced aluminium with recycled aluminium. We look forward to working with AB InBev to continue our leadership on responsible aluminium, bringing transparency and traceability across the supply chain to meet consumer expectations for sustainable packaging.”
Through the partnership, AB InBev and Rio Tinto will work together to integrate innovative technology solutions into the brewer’s supply chain, advancing its transition toward more sustainable packaging and providing traceability on the aluminium used in cans.