Heineken UK has announced it will stop using plastic rings for multipack cans and replace them with cardboard toppers.

Developed as part of a £22m ($28.1m) investment, the new packaging will reduce plastic and waste. It is expected to eliminate 517t of plastic a year.

Heineken will distribute the investment between the company’s facilities in Manchester, Tadcaster and Hereford.

Fully recyclable and compostable cardboard topper technology will be tested by the end of the year at Manchester brewery.

The plastic-free topper will become available to the UK retailers from April 2020. The company will launch the product for Heineken, Foster’s and Kronenbourg 1664 multi-pack cans.

By 2021, it will be extended to all Heineken multi-pack cans, including Strongbow, Bulmer’s and John Smith’s.

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Heineken UK marketing director Cindy Tervoort said: “The effect of single-use plastic is having on our planet can’t be ignored. Creating an eco-friendly solution that eliminates plastic while still meeting the demands of our beer and cider drinkers has been a big focus in our business.

“Now, after years in development and huge investment, we are extremely pleased to announce our recyclable and compostable topper innovation, a significant milestone in our journey to eliminate all single-use plastic.”

The move is a part of the company’s Brewing a Better World strategy and commitment towards sustainability.

To achieve this, Heineken UK has already adopted lightweight glass bottles and aluminium cans, as well as a deposit return scheme pilot in the last three years.

The company also uses refillable kegs to sell more than half of its beers and ciders in the UK pubs.