Michelob Ultra Goes Greener With Aluminum in MacBooks

(Bloomberg) -- Michelob Ultra beer is getting an upgrade: it’ll be served in cans made from the same aluminum used in Apple MacBooks.

The appeal of the metal is a better carbon footprint. Beermaker Anheuser-Busch InBev NV and metal producer Rio Tinto Group said Friday that the new cans are partly made using a “carbon-free” process that eliminates greenhouse gases. The specialty metal comes from a joint venture between Rio Tinto and Alcoa Corp., called Elysis, which has counted Apple Inc. among its backers.

American consumers have been demanding and paying more for food and beverages that make sustainability claims, causing many traditional brands to scramble for an edge among shoppers.

The move to lower-carbon cans advances “the transition toward more sustainable packaging” and also provides traceability, Tolga Egrilmezer, Rio Tinto’s vice president of sales and marketing, said in a statement. “Responsibly produced aluminium can play key role in helping our customers deliver the sustainable products expected by today’s consumers.”

The new aluminum-making process emits oxygen instead of carbon, a process that could revolutionize the industry if it’s successful at a commercial scale.

Rio Tinto said 2.5 million of the cans will be distributed over the coming months. Michelob Ultra is the second-highest selling beer by dollars in the U.S. after Bud Light, according to data from research firm IRI.

  • More details: The Michelob Ultra cans were manufactured at Anheuser-Busch’s Metal Container Corporation facility in Jacksonville, Florida, using the Elysis aluminum cast into sheet ingots from Rio Tinto’s plant in Quebec, Canada.
  • The companies did not provide specific volume or mix of aluminum coming from the Elysis joint-venture.
  • Anheuser-Busch partnered with Rio Tinto in October to market the lower-carbon cans.

(Updates with scale of can distribution in sixth paragraph. A previous version corrected the Apple products the aluminum is used in.)