In a new statement, The Brewers of Europe has called for a level playing field for alcoholic beverage packaging in the ‘general approach’ to the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, arguing that there is ‘no reason’ for beer to be held to reuse and DRS rules while wines and spirits are exempt.

It aligns with stances taken in the open session at the Council, in which Poland and Slovakia encouraged a level playing field under Article 26. The latter country highlighted what is perceived to be an unfair focus on beer packaging.

Similarly, countries such as the Netherlands called for fair legislation; Austria earned against the inclusion of further exemptions; and Belgium argued that beer should be held to the same exemptions as wine.

While it expresses its support for the PPWR in its overall ambition, The Brewers of Europe points out that, despite the European Council agreeing to a negotiating mandate by a qualified majority, the legislation can still be changed – and urges the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers to make changes as the trialogues approach.

In their current form, the rules are described as ‘discriminatory’ and apparently fail to align with ECJ rulings and the EU’s Single Market basics of fair treatment amongst competing products, such as beer and wine. The Brewers of Europe believes that a fair regulatory framework will help brewers and industry players in other sectors to keep reducing their packaging waste.

“If the packaging legislation is to be fair and effective it needs a level playing field when it comes to reuse targets and deposit return systems,” stated head of Operations Simon Spillane. “If this is not addressed, then brewers will be the only major alcoholic drink sector facing these extra demands and costs.

“That would be an egregious discrimination: the exemptions should be dropped completely or applied to all. That is why we hope the final text will deliver a fair and legally consistent rulebook.”

It follows a previous statement from The Brewers of Europe highlighting the importance of all packaging types, including glass bottles, aluminium cans, and kegs – and stating that exempting most alcoholic beverages, but not beer, from reuse targets or mandatory deposit return schemes is ‘neither legally nor environmentally justified’.

UNESDA, the European Container Glass Federation (FEVE), European Bioplastics (EUBP), the Permanent Materials Alliance, and Zero Waste Europe have also released their own statements in the wake of the general approach. Mandatory collection targets, and the addition and removals of measures to and from the draft text, were amongst the measures criticized.

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