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Lithuanian Brewer Region’s First To Use 100% Recycled Plastic Beer Bottles

Lithuania’s largest brewer Švyturys-Utenos alus will begin using new 100% recycled PET (rPET) bottles, reducing plastic use by an expected near 100 tons in the first year after the switch.

Švyturys-Utenos alus 100% recycled PET bottles
Švyturys-Utenos alus 100% recycled PET bottles
Darius Kučys

Carlsberg-owned Lithuanian brewer Švyturys-Utenos alus will start using 100% rPET plastic, making it the first brewer to do so in all of Northern and Central Europe, a release from the company says.

“We are not waiting for someone to point a finger–reducing plastic has always been an important question in our company and we have been working in this direction for a long time,” Rolandas Viršilas, head of Švyturys-Utenos alus and the Carlsberg Group in the baltic states, says in the release. “We are happy that together with our partners we found a solution to implement the changes, although technologically it was not an easy task, especially for beer containers.”

The switch pushes the brand ahead of the curve on European Union regulations that will require PET bottles to use 25% rPET by 2025 and 30% by 2030.

Švyturys-Utenos alus will start by replacing the currently-used Utena brand transparent PET bottles with 100% rPET. Other Švyturys-Utenos alus-produced bottles will later be replaced with bottles containing various other rPET content percentages.

Bottles made from rPET are suitable for recycling, allowing for an “almost closed multiple ‘production-recycling’ cycle,” Švyturys-Utenos alus says in the release. New bottles are produced from recycled raw material, with a small addition of virgin PET plastic in the production flow.

As a result, the brand expects a reduction of primary PET plastic by about 92.3 tons in the first year, with further increases in subsequent years as more bottles are swapped.

Partnering with Doloop

Švyturys-Utenos alus is working with Doloop, a Northern European producer of PET packaging based on regenerative design principles, to implement the switch to rPET. Doloop CEO Dovydas Stulpinas notes in the release the added benefit that rPET emits almost three times less CO2 than primary PET.

Švyturys-Utenos alus claims the swap will reduce CO2 gas emissions by 551 tons in the next year, equivalent to the amount of CO2 emitted by a diesel car traveling about 3 million kilometers.

“We are very happy to have found an innovative solution - with its use in Lithuania, a new era of sustainability of plastic beverage packaging begins,” Stulpinas says.

Implementing Ambitious Goals

This is far from the first sustainability-focused innovation to emerge from Švyturys-Utenos alus. As part of the international Carlsberg group, the company follows the strategy of the sustainability program “Together Towards Zero.” 

Through the program, the group’s breweries are committed to reduce CO2 emissions to zero within a decade, and reduce the CO2 footprint in the entire value chain to 30%. The Utena Brewery reached the standard of “carbon-neutral” production back in 2019. 

Švyturys-Utenos alus is also working to reduce the amount of plastic in closures and finding solutions for thinner packaging films. 

“It is not a matter of a day or a few months, but in the perspective of a few years, we will see very clear changes,” Švyturys-Utenos alus’s Viršilas says. “Both industry players and specialists agree with this–regardless of the field in which we operate, we must think not only about the planet of the present but also of the future. If technological solutions can contribute to the improvement of environmental protection, it is necessary to take advantage of them. I would encourage other businesses to think about this and start implementing innovations today.”

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