Sustainable Beer Packaging

  • Shaver, Michael (Participant)
  • Guilhem De Hoe (Participant)
  • Adam Peirce (Participant)
  • Hannah Baron (Participant)
  • Chloe Loveless (Participant)
  • Robbie Clark (Participant)
  • Tom Bennett (Participant)

Impact: Economic, Environmental, Awareness and understanding, Attitudes and behaviours


Plastic packaging and other materials such as bags, boxes, pallets, shrink wrap, bottles, cans, kegs, barrels and a whole lot more, are all essential to the business of brewing. However, the vast array of packaging materials can often have a negative impact on the environment through unintended consequences such as plastic waste leakage and a higher carbon footprint.

‘Sustainable Beer Packaging: Beyond Planting Trees’ was a free programme of work for environmentally conscious microbreweries in Greater Manchester to explore new opportunities for sustainable beer packaging.

In collaboration with 11 of Manchester’s most thriving independent microbreweries the Sustainable Material Innovation (SMI) Hub tackled challenges surrounding packaging of incoming materials, one-way kegs, and sustainability of cans or bottles. Group discussion around these challenges triggered new ideas, exciting opportunities, and clarified next steps towards more sustainable brewing for this community.

Over several months, the SMI Hub conducted bespoke materials flow analyses by visiting each brewery, collecting packaging data, and engaging various key supply chain partners. These outputs revealed the amounts of plastic packaging flowing through each business and what happens to various products at end-of-life. This research helped us to make robust recommendations to reduce costs, resources and environmental impact for breweries.

Overall, the programme successfully identified quick-wins and long-term opportunities to make Manchester’s brewing community the most forward thinking when it comes to great-tasting, sustainable beer. Among these changes are more conscious choices of packaging such as bio-based plastic labels for beer cans and more recyclable transit packaging, as well as shifting to more transparent waste companies. Though the project has concluded, the discussions with GM microbreweries are still ongoing and have launched a broader conversation within the wider industry.
Impact date4 Jun 2021
Category of impactEconomic, Environmental, Awareness and understanding, Attitudes and behaviours
Impact levelBenefit

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Henry Royce Institute
  • Sustainable Consumption Institute
  • Sustainable Futures
  • Manchester Environmental Research Institute
  • Advanced materials