By Mike Pomranz | FoodAndWine.Com
Troy Warren #foodie-all
You can’t make beer from barley straw, but you can make cardboard.
Corona may be a beer you associate with vacations on the beach, but the brand’s packaging team doesn’t seem to spend much time lounging around. In recent years, Corona has made headlines for trying out a number of more sustainable options including biodegradable, non-plastic six-pack rings and cans that can twist together, eliminating the need for additional packaging altogether. Now, Corona is at it again—announcing another packaging innovation that is getting a trial launch in South America: six-pack bottle holders made with the help of a byproduct from one of beer’s main ingredients, barley.
These new six-pack holders are made with a mix of recycled wood fibers and leftover barley straw, which unlike the grain, isn’t used for beer. Corona explains that working with barley straw requires “a unique pulping process built to handle its relative fragility,” but once combined with more traditional wood fibers, the results are “as strong and durable as a regular six-pack, but better for the planet.”
Those sustainability credentials include using 90 percent less water than the traditional virgin wood process, “along with less energy and fewer harsh chemicals,” the brand states. “Using leftover barley straw is also far more productive than the equivalent area of woodland, and Corona sees this as one path forward to eliminate the need for virgin trees and raw material from their supply chain in the future.”
The new packaging is getting a 10,000 six-pack trial launch in Colombia this month, followed by another trial slated to take place in Argentina later this year. From there, Corona says they will look to potentially “scale the new solution globally.”
“We’re excited to finally launch this new packaging innovation we’ve been developing over the past three years,” explained Keenan Thompson, director of packaging innovation at AB InBev, which owns the Corona brand outside of the United States. “At AB InBev we are continually pushing boundaries by developing scalable solutions. Today is a proud moment for us; not only are we providing an opportunity for farmers but we’re also delivering a more mindful solution to the consumer.”