Cheers to a more sustainable world

As one of the world’s largest brewers, Carlsberg wanted to create a greener beer. The bottles of the Danish brewer have already a green color for decades, but the ‘Cheers to Green Ideas’ competition was launched to improve the environmental impact of beer. The company has incorporated an open innovation model and asked consumers and companies from all over the world to submit ideas about greening the beer. Using the wisdom of the crowd, Carlsberg wanted to have a positive effect on the environment through drinking beer.


“We believe that business has a leading role to play in developing concepts such as the circular economy or closed-loop practices to drive positive change.” – Cees ‘t Hart, CEO, Carlsberg Group


Carlsberg is aware of their position in today’s world, and therefore know that they can contribute to a more sustainable environment. To achieve this, they created an open innovation model. They opened op for external ideas and collaborations. For instance for the ‘Cheers to Green Ideas’ competition, with the collaboration with Sustainia, a think tank that wants to create a more sustainable future. Together, Carlsberg and Sustainia wanted to build on the world of tomorrow through launching a sustainability competition in 2015.


The challenge

In 2015, Carlsberg announced the ‘Cheers to Green Ideas’ competition. During a three-week period, consumers, firms, and entrepreneurs from all over the world had the possibility to submit their ideas about making the Carlsberg’s beer more sustainable. The competition highlighted three key challenges to consider: how to package beer in an eco-friendly way, how to increase recycling, and how to use less water and energy during production. In total, six finalists were selected out of the 162 submitted ideas by a Carlsberg jury. Two awards were to handed out to the best ideas: Cheers to Green Ideas Award, mainly intended for companies and entrepreneurs, and the JC Jacobsen Special Award, intended for consumers.




From closed to open

This competition shows that Carlsberg has an open innovation model. They are open to collaborating with other companies and organizations, and the input of consumers. Even though many companies benefit from the transition from closed to open, this often does not go without resistance, and therefore does not happen overnight. The process often faces organizational, social, and psychological barriers.


It’s a change process

Opening up an organization requires change, demanding for a different mindset. While changing, firms can face various barriers. Organizational barriers can be encountered with all activities that have to do with implementing co-creation (complex governance, operations, intellectual property etc.). Also, there can be psychological and social barriers, which can occur in a team or among employees (inertia, fear of the unknown, not invented hear syndrome etc.).




Get ready for co-creation

Managing the process from closed to open well can result in a profitable business, but where should firms pay attention to? Using the following steps can help to overcome the aforementioned barriers.

Start with why: explain why change is need

Shrink the change: divide the change into small steps

Go for direct result: generate quick wins along the process

Cut the leash: give autonomy and show value for individuals

Do it together: create a feeling of unity and shared identity through team building to create trust and encourage people

Discover the feeling: show other successful cases to let people experience it to make them more at ease

Set the scene: provide a place by literally creating a co-creation environment apart from the daily business, inside or outside the company walls

Make it happen: incorporate the change in every activity and decision to make it a natural behavior

Get the board in: make sure higher management support the change and let them show their support with a rewarding system


Following these steps can helps firms to overcome barriers from going to an open business model and have successful co-creation competitions just as Carlsberg.



Carlsberg, 2015:

Carlsberg, 2016:

GlobeNewswire, 2015:

Fronteer, 2011:

Sustainia, 2015:

Sutainia, 2017:

Sustainable brand, 2015: hannah_furlong/carlsberg_saying_cheers_crowdsourced_solutions_sustainab

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