Beer-loving environmentalists are raising their glass for Carlsberg these days. The Danish beer company has delivered an ambitious sustainability agenda to help tackle climate change that includes the brand new ‘snap pack’ — a six-pack where the beers are glued together with an environmentally friendly adhesive. Nevertheless, the snap pack is just one point in Carlsberg’s broader new sustainability program.
#DenmarkInNY met up with the company’s Vice President in Corporate Affairs, Anders Bering, to learn more about why the company’s approach is not only good for the planet, but also good for business and for society as a whole.
DKNY: Carlsberg recently launched its new snap pack. The snap pack replaces the plastic wrapping used around Carlsberg’s six packs with a pioneering technology that glues its cans together, reducing plastic waste. Above all, it’s relevant for achieving several of the global goals — the SDGs. Why is it important for Carlsberg to work with the SDGs?
AB: The world needs strong, collective action in the face of complex sustainability challenges such as climate change, access to resources and public health concerns. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement are helping to accelerate change, deepening the commitment of governments, civil society and businesses globally. They highlight how important it is for us to work together if we are to succeed in delivering change. Our sustainability programme, Together Towards ZERO, is our contribution to this urgently needed change. It sets new industry standards for science-based and partnership-driven sustainability. We believe our approach is not only good for the planet, but also for business and for society as a whole. It increases our efficiency, reduces risks and builds resilience in our supply chain, while resonating with our customers and consumers in an increasingly sustainability-conscious world.
The Snap Pack innovation is one of our first deliverables under the Together Towards ZERO programme. These improvements are part of the Carlsberg Group’s constant pursuit of doing things better, offering great beer products while reducing their environmental impact. We are embarking on a journey to help consumers to live more sustainable lives by introducing a range of packaging innovations which will minimize the environmental impact of its beers, while moving quality to an even higher level. The new Snap Pack will for example eliminate up to 76% of the plastic used in traditional multi packs. When fully implemented, this could reduce plastic waste by more than 1,200 tonnes globally — equivalent to eliminating 60 million plastic bags each year.
Besides the Snap Pack, we have also launched other innovative packaging solutions which further contribute to reducing our impact on the environment. These include:
1. The use of Cradle-to-Cradle™ certified inks on its labels to improve recyclability,
2. The application of coating to refillable glass bottles to make them last longer,
3. Improved bottle caps that remove the oxygen from the bottle to make the beer taste fresher for longer,
4. Recycled content in wrapping where plastic is still needed
DKNY: How do the SDGs influence the way Carlsberg works on the global stage?
AB: Last year we launched our sustainability programme Together Towards ZERO which has four areas with the greatest relevance for our business and society: carbon & energy, water, responsible drinking and health & safety. Together Towards ZERO states our ambition within each of these areas: ZERO carbon footprint, ZERO water waste, ZERO irresponsible drinking and a ZERO accidents culture across our business. Under each ambition, we have set measurable targets for 2022 and 2030 respectively.
The programme supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals with a particular focus on SDG #3 (GoodHealth & Wellbeing), #6 (Clean Water & Sanitation), #7 (Affordable & Clean Energy), 8 (Decent Work & Economic Growth), 12 (Responsible Consumption & Production) and 17 (Partnerships).
We have set science based approved targets for our carbon emissions with Together Towards ZERO, meaning that we are in line with best available climate science. In fact, our ambitions go beyond the base level of ambition set out in the Paris Agreement to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, and we aim for the more ambitious targets of keeping temperature increase below 1,5 degrees.
DKNY: When discussing Denmark abroad we frequently refer to Danish values (trust, tolerance, gender equality). Do you feel there is something inherently Danish about the way your company develops solutions for the SDGs?
AB: I think that Carlsberg has a distinctive heritage in itself, that is for sure founded in our Danish heritage, given that our founders started the business in Copenhagen in 1847. We still live by our founder’s values of brewing for a better today and tomorrow. Our purpose is to brew excellent beers, while leaving a better world for tomorrow through investments in science and sustainability.
DKNY: What is the biggest challenge in incorporating sustainability in Carlsberg’s business strategy?
AB: With Together Towards ZERO, we have set our direction for the next decade, and the most pressing question is if we through our work can help others to see the urgency in the challenges we are facing. This includes business partners and companies in other industries. We cannot drive the entire change alone, so we need likeminded partners to join us on the journey towards zero. If we are not able to inspire and drive change outside our own business, we will not achieve our targets.
DKNY: What is your best advice for newcomers, particularly other Danish companies, who would like to work strategically with the Sustainable Development Goals?
AB: I think any company should start with looking at the things that are most material to their business. Here I mean both the things where the company can have the biggest positive as well as negative impact. From there you should review the SDGs on a target and indicator level, and not only on an overall goal level. This enables you to identify the specific areas where the business can play the biggest role. No-one can do everything, but every-one can do something.
Katrine Skov Sørensen is the Press and Communications Intern at DenmarkInNY.