Sustainable beer cans are the future for brewery Van Honsebrouck. To achieve this, the family brewery invested in a new packaging line for its special beers. Plastic is banned and disposable film becomes biodegradable. The can line will be built to meet demand from countries such as China and India.

They want to play a pioneering role and are the first brewery to give their canned beers an ecological touch. They can provide the cans with a print, but it is also possible to work with zip-off ‘sleeves’, a kind of ecological label that they wrap around the can. They use these for smaller editions and special occasions.

The brewery also cooperates with the Irish company Smurfit Kappa for plastic-free packaging. They use packaging made from FSC paper from sustainably managed forests. By only working with cardboard, they save 8.75 tonnes of plastic per 30,000 hectoliters. The foil around the pallets is made from sugar cane and, in terms of water consumption, they save up to 2,000 cubic meters of water for 30,000 hectoliters of canned beer compared to reusable bottles.

There is also an improvement in transport. Because cans weigh less than bottles, they can deliver 48% more volume in cans compared to bottles. An additional advantage is that no return freight is required for the cans. So one transport of cans replaces two loads with full bottles and two loads with the return of those bottles. That means less C02 emissions.

The material of the can also plays a role, in this case aluminium.  In order to recycle it, 95% less energy is needed than to produce it. A saving of 8 tonnes less CO2 emissions per tonne. Moreover, once a can is empty, it takes an average of only sixty days for it to be recycled and filled back into the shop shelves.