Brussels, October 24, 2023 – With the European Parliament set to vote today on the EU’s new packaging rules, The Brewers of Europe urges MEPs in the Environment committee to back measures that are environmentally friendly, efficient and even-handed.
The Brewers of Europe, which represents the interests of over 10,000 breweries in the EU, warns that the current draft Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) still discriminates against certain sectors, notably beer, disadvantaging not just brewers but the environment too.
While the beer sector has proactively moved to set up sustainable packaging systems, the draft PPWR nonetheless grants other alcoholic beverage sectors total exemptions from reuse targets and mandatory deposit return systems (DRS). If unchanged, these measures would not only damage the economy and distort the Single Market, they would also undermine the sustainability aims of the proposal.
“We need strong packaging legislation and brewers are already playing their part, reducing, reusing and recycling at impressive rates,” says The Brewers of Europe Director Simon Spillane. “However, in its current form, the PPWR sets strong rules for brewers but lets others off the hook. Europe needs a level playing field in packaging legislation, where beer and other alcoholic beverages play by the same rules, with each sector contributing fairly to reaching the targets and supporting the collection systems. That would be fair for brewers, citizens and the environment.”
Brewers are pioneers in reuse and recycling. More than half our beer volumes in the EU are sold in reusable packaging, while the rest is typically sold in recyclable packaging, using recycled content that is collected at impressive rates. But brewers cannot be the only ones pulling their weight. The current PPWR’s exemptions are offered without any legal or environmental justification.
The PPWR also needs to ensure that the volume of beer held by kegs, the ultimate sustainable beverage container, is taken into account when measuring their contribution to the achievement of reusable packaging targets. A typical 50 litre beer keg will be reused up to 165 times over a 30-year period. To not reflect the difference between a packaging unit that is 30 or 50l and a packaging unit that is 25 or 33cl when measuring the attainment of targets would perversely encourage producers to replace keg volumes with multiple smaller units – leading to more packaging, and ultimately more waste.
We brewers have already invested heavily in reducing our environmental footprint. We have reduced, reused and recycled beer packaging throughout the lifecycle. And beyond packaging, we lead by example when it comes to the circular economy. We are part of the solution, and we want to continue innovating. We want to keep finding new ways to become more sustainable.
But we need legislation to be proportionate, well-targeted, non-discriminatory, and coherent. We urge MEPs to scrutinise the PPWR carefully and resolve the issues that risk undermining both the EU’s Single Market and the sustainability aims it proclaims.
About The Brewers of Europe:
Based in Brussels, The Brewers of Europe brings together national brewers’ associations from 29 European countries and provides a voice to support the united interests of Europe’s 10,000+ breweries. The Brewers of Europe promotes the positive role played by beer and the brewing sector in Europe and advocates the creation of the right conditions to allow brewers to continue to freely, cost-effectively and responsibly brew and market beer across Europe. Follow us on Twitter and visit our website.