How War Threatens to Disrupt the Supply of ‘Green’ Beer Cans Around the World

by Quentin Blount
Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The world’s beer can supply could be in jeopardy thanks to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. More specifically, the world’s supply of “green” beer cans.

The aluminum industry has long been at the top of the list of major industries that need to be decarbonized. For those of you who don’t know, aluminum is considered to be one of the world’s most carbon-intensive metals. That’s exactly why so many companies have made deals with the Russian firm En+ Group IPJSC. They are one of the world’s largest producers of low-carbon aluminum.

Uday Patel is a principal analyst at Wood Mackenzie. He told Politico that if the tension around Russian resources doesn’t get resolved by the middle of this year, we risk a potential reversal of our goal to lower carbon in our consumer products like beer cans.

“[Russia] is such an important part of the green supply chain in aluminum,” Patel said. “I don’t see a way out of that conundrum.”

Aluminum Production Is a Leading Contributor to Global Warming

Experts say that aluminum-producing factories are one of the leaders when it comes to carbon emissions into the atmosphere. They rank higher on the list than most other industries thanks to the fact that for the most part, they still rely on coal and gas. But if we want to lower our emissions and help to slow the pace of global warming, the first step in doing so is to cut the carbon footprint of aluminum.

That’s where a company like En+ comes in. They are the self-proclaimed “largest producer of low-carbon aluminum” in the world. With more than 15 gigawatts of hydropower capacity to play around with, the company estimates that they produce roughly 15-20 percent of all the “green” aluminum products in the marketplace.

But the Russian invasion of Ukraine has numerous outside companies refusing to do business with En+. As a result, it is going to be much harder and much more expensive to use “green aluminum” than normal.

“You’ve got an unholy mess in the market,” Patel said.

Is There a New Beer Can Supply Partnership in the Works?

There’s no denying that the Russia-Ukraine situation is taking its toll on the rest of the world. Shoot, just take a look at the national average price for a gallon of gas. To make matters worse, it’s hurting our ability to lower our carbon footprint in the aluminum industry.

The good news is that Budweiser Brewing Group in the United Kingdom and Ireland have plans to produce five million Budweiser cans that are considered to be “ultra-low carbon.” Mauricio Coindreau, the group’s sustainability director, said that they’re excited about the pilot.

“We’re excited about this pilot, made possible thanks to the collaboration with our partners and this amazing technological breakthrough,” he said. “We look forward to being able to roll it out even further.”