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Labatt moving to greener packaging at London, Montreal breweries

The KeelClip packaging uses recyclable fibre paperboard instead of plastic. supplied by Labatt Breweries of Canada

Labatt Breweries of Canada is spending close to $100 million to outfit its breweries in London, Ont., and Montreal, Que., with a new packaging system made of recyclable paper product, a company executive has told Global News.

The new packaging will replace existing plastic rings, tops and shrink film, resulting in an annual reduction of single-use plastic by 152,000 kg in 2022 — the equivalent of 117 mid-sized cars. The company’s aim is to achieve a reduction of 242,000 kg annually by 2024.

Read more: Montreal to ban single-use plastics by 2023

The KeelClip packaging system uses minimal material, made of recyclable fibre paperboard, which will fold over top of the cans and clip them together “in a very sturdy package,” said London brewery senior GM Alex Martel.

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“Our Montreal brewery and our London brewery are the first two breweries in North America to introduce this new packaging. It’s been a lot of work to get to this point, but we’re really proud to be close to finish line now.”

Read more: ‘Disappointing end’: Canadian activists react to COP26 climate deal

The process began about a year ago and it will be in use at the London brewery next month, Martel said.

“We’re proud to call London our hometown brewery. This is where everything started 174 years ago in 1847. All 400 workers are calling London their community, so we’re really proud to set a bright future for Labatt here in London.”

The KeelClip system is already in use in Montreal but at a reduced capacity.

Part of a production line using the KeelClip packaging system. supplied by Labatt Breweries of Canada

The new packaging system is part of a larger $461.5 million investment across Canada “focused on sustainability, innovation and production enhancements,” the company announced on Monday.

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“This will allow us to reduce our environmental footprint, and enable our breweries’ future growth as we continue to meet the changing needs of Canadians,” VP of legal and corporate affairs Jeff Ryan said in a statement.

The investment also includes: funding for a new line in London; a new fermentation tank in Montreal; $119 million in Alberta, including $69 million for improvements, upgrades and an expansion to the Edmonton brewery; $38 million in B.C., including investments in the Creston brewery’s warehouse expansion and improvements at Vancouver’s Turning Point Brewery; $25.2 million in Nova Scotia, including improvements to the Oland Brewery; and $9.9 million for upgrades and enhancements in Newfoundland.

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