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Heineken invests R2.3bn in returnable glass programme in South Africa

27th February 2024

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Multinational beer producer Heineken has invested R2.3-billion in its returnable bottle programme in South Africa, more than doubling its share of returnable glass beer bottles, as part of its goal to move to 65% returnable glass bottles.

The move towards increased returnable glass aligns with its global ambition of net-zero carbon by 2040 as per the company's Brew a Better World strategy.

Heineken beer has the same bottle design in 190 countries worldwide. However, the brewer will break with tradition and unveil a new design for its returnable bottle in South Africa, which is a change not made anywhere else in the world.

The newly designed 650 ml returnable bottle, called the Star Bottle, features the iconic Heineken star on its body, along with the Heineken name deep-etched into the glass.

Alongside the launch of its returnable bottle, Heineken will be opening several Heineken Green Zones, which are a collection of open parks and meadows complemented by food and flower gardens, as well as creative arts spaces in communities across the country, including Phillipi, in Cape Town; and Eldorado Park and Lawley, in Johannesburg.

“This initiative aims to promote sustainability-driven behaviours within communities and provide essential recreational areas that integrate food gardens and inspiring art installations. The initiative will be run in partnership with GreenPop, which is a group dedicated to reforestation and urban green zones in sub-Saharan Africa,” Heineken announced.

The company aims to complete five green zones in the first half of 2024 covering more than 30 000 m2 of indigenous plants.

“This is an important decision for our global business, with the first returnable Heineken bottle to be sold on South African soil. Sustainability is a journey, and we are starting with a few footsteps in the right direction,” said Heineken Beverages MD Jordi Borrut.

In addition to the new returnable bottle, Heineken invested in a water reclamation facility in 2022 and in a 6.5 MW solar power plant, with more than 14 000 panels, for its Sedibeng brewery, reducing the brewery’s carbon emissions by about 30%.

“The Heineken Returnable Star bottle is not just about clearing glass. We should always push ourselves to do more to create sustainable change in the communities where our business operates. The Heineken Green Zones are another way in which we can achieve that ambition,” Borrut explained.

Further, Heineken has joined a number of global sustainability and net-zero initiatives, including the Climate Group's RE100 program, We Mean Business Coalition, the Race to Zero movement, the Business Ambition for 1.5 °C, and the Climate Pledge.

“We recognise that sustainability is non-negotiable globally and we remain committed to maintaining sustainable business operations. The introduction of the new Heineken returnable bottle, along with the investment in the Green Zones, marks small but meaningful steps in the right direction,” he said.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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