Without packaging, there is no beer. It’s as simple as that. As brewers, we need robust and airtight containers to hold, transport and serve the product. And we need to do it while keeping it safe, hygienic and of the highest quality.
Kegs are a key part of our packaging mix. They represent around 15% of the overall beer volumes in Europe. With a lifespan of over 30 years, these large containers can be collected and reused over 150 times before being recycled for further use. Kegs are the ultimate sustainable packaging system for drinks – and they should be encouraged.
Whilst the draft Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) has bold and laudable aims, these best-in-class containers risk being sidelined and disincentivised in the proposed legislation.
Most kegs in on-trade establishments carry between 20 and 50 litres, but without a revised wording in the PPWR, they could still be measured as a single packaging unit just like any bottle, can or small container. With one keg potentially holding the same volume as two hundred 25cl bottles, this measurement calculation would have the perverse effect of encouraging companies to switch towards multiple smaller reusable packaging units in order to hit targets, inevitably creating more waste.
Of perhaps even more concern, unless they are captured by the definition of sales packaging, beer kegs may not even count towards brewers’ attainment of sales packaging reuse targets alongside reusable glass bottles.
If we are to avoid needless waste, we should incentivise kegs. That means, for the purpose of measurement, converting them into volume or into equivalent smaller packaging units. It also means, as containers with direct contact with the beer, unlike crates and pallets, ensuring that they be captured by the definition of sales packaging, not the definition of transport packaging.
We brewers are proud of our pioneering role in promoting reusable, recyclable and recycled packaging and the successful collection schemes that have been set up to ensure beer containers are reused or recycled. We are also committed to working with MEPs to ensure that the EU’s sustainability agenda works for all. That means changing the draft PPWR so it is fair for brewers, citizens, and the environment.