Guinness: good things shouldn't go to waste

Case study

Christmas trees fertilized with unsold Guinness

We're always looking for ways to cut back on waste – it is an essential part of our ambition to become sustainable by design. So when pubs had to close during the Covid-19 pandemic, we moved fast to make sure that millions of pints of undrunk Guinness didn't end up poured down the drain, potentially causing problems for wastewater systems and wasting a high-quality, valuable resource.

We decided to collect any unsold kegs and put the beer to good use – including as a fertiliser for Christmas trees and willows, which got the benefit of the beer's rich organic content while giving us the reassurance that it was being disposed of responsibly.

It was a huge operation – we took back more than 500,000 kegs from Ireland and 100,000 from our big overseas markets – but it had an environmentally happy ending. The beer that was not used as fertiliser went through one of two other environmentally sustainable channels: either for compost, or for use in an anaerobic digestion facility producing biogas as a replacement for fossil fuels.