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Guinness to Ditch Plastic Packaging

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Beer packs of Guinness will now come in a cardboard box. Diageo

By Jordan Davidson

Guinness is joining the fight against single use plastic. The brewer has seen enough hapless turtles and marine life suffering from the scourge of plastic.


Guinness's parent company, Diageo, announced that the iconic Irish stout will no longer use plastic rings or shrink wrap. Instead, the company will invest $21 million to replace plastic with 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable cardboard, according to CNN Business. The change, which will be introduced in Ireland in August and the rest of the world by August 2020, also applies to Guinness's other products, Harp and Smithwick's.

"Great packaging is essential for our products," said David Cutter, Diageo's chief sustainability officer added, reported the The Telegraph. "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."

Diageo estimates that its new initiative will be equivalent to removing 40 million 500 ml plastic bottles, which if laid out end-to-end, would reach from London to Beijing, or New York City to Honolulu, according to The Telegraph.

"We're continuously looking for ways to work with our suppliers, customers and consumers to make our packaging more sustainable and our targets ensure that 100% of plastics used are designed to be widely recyclable, or reusable/compostable," the company said in a statement, The Hill reported.

This piggybacks on Diageo's statement last year when it announced its intention to to ensure all plastics are widely recyclable or reusable by 2025.

"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," said Mark Sandys, global head of beer, Baileys and Smirnoff for Diageo, as reported by The Telegraph.

Guinness follows the footsteps of other brewers who have taken steps to reduce ocean plastic. In 2016, Salt Water Brewery announced all their six-packs of Screamin' Reels IPA would be packaged with E6PR (Eco Six Pack Ring), a compostable holder made with some brewing byproducts like spent wheat and barley, according to National Geographic.

"I can't speak to the nutrition of barley to sea turtles, but it does seem a lot more benign if ingested than traditional six-pack plastics," Nick Mallos, director of the Ocean Conservancy's Trash Free Seas program, told National Geographic in 2016

The Danish beer company, Carlsberg, announced last September that it would ditch plastic rings, according to CNN Business. Instead, Carlsberg will be packaged in a special glue that holds the cans together. The Danish brewer estimates that shifting to glue will reduce global waste by the equivalent of 60 million plastic bags.

Guinness and Carlsberg are the latest beverage companies to respond to the backlash against plastic around the world. Starbucks and Alaska Airlines will phase out plastic straws and stirrers. McDonalds will stop using plastic straws in the UK and Ireland. The Chicago White Sox became the first MLB team to ban plastic straws.

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If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.

That's the conclusion of a new study from think tank Autonomy, which found that Germany, the UK and Sweden all needed to drastically reduce their workweeks to fight climate change.

"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."

The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.

The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.

The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.

"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."

Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.

"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."

Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.

"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."

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