EU Environment Ministers can still change the unfair draft packaging rules

EU Environment Ministers can still change the unfair draft packaging rules

The Brewers of Europe - News release

Brussels, December 17, 2023 – The EU’s draft Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) still contains discriminatory measures that undermine both fairness and sustainability, yet ministers at the EU’s Environment Council in Brussels tomorrow (Monday) can correct it.

The European Parliament voted on the draft PPWR last month but proposed a flawed version of the legislation that gives preferential treatment to some drinks sectors. The draft text proposed by Council currently removes reuse and refill targets and deposit return system obligations for stronger alcohol sectors, whilst maintaining them for beer.

However, Environment Ministers can set the record straight, setting the path for the legislation to be balanced and fair. They need to ensure the PPWR maintains its basic aim of cutting needless and excessive packaging while upholding the principle of non-discrimination at the heart of the EU rulebook.

EU case law has on numerous occasions upheld the general principle laid down by the ECJ that beer and other alcoholic beverages (especially wine) are competing products. The products are, at least partially, substitutable with each other and should not face unjustified differences in treatment that distort competition. In the PPWR, where the reduction of beverage packaging waste can be ensured through circularity, increasing reuse and recycling, there is no objective justification not to have a level playing field, where beer and other alcoholic beverages play by the same rules.

The Brewers of Europe Head of Operations Simon Spillane said the Environment Council needed to address the blatant bias in the draft proposals. “Beer cannot be the only alcoholic drink obliged to deliver on packaging reuse targets and bound by rules around deposit return systems. Unless this is changed, beer brewers will face unjust demands and extra costs compared to competing alcoholic drink sectors,” he said. “This egregious discrimination can still be corrected. The rules in the PPWR should apply to all alcoholic beverage sectors without exception: just as obligations should apply fairly to each beverage sector, so if exemptions are given to one category, then they must apply to all.”

The PPWR should furthermore ensure that misguided rules not discourage existing best practices. Whether it be the brewers’ practise of serving beer from large, reusable kegs or the use of established systems for collecting reusable or recyclable packaging, these approaches must be supported, not dismantled, by the new legislation.

Europe’s beer sector is proud of its record on sustainability. We lead the way in the reduction, reuse and recycling of packaging. The EU now needs to ensure a fair regulatory framework that encourages brewers and other sectors to continue to step up in support of cutting packaging waste.


Simon Spillane, Head of Operations,

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.