“Brewing industry is more sustainable than other beverage industries”

On the second day of the Braubeviale beverage trade fair in Nuremberg , 13 November, leading industry representatives will be discussing the subject of “What is the point of a bottle deposit?” In a brief interview with packaging360°, Holger Eichele, Managing Director of the German Brewers’ Association “Die deutschen Brauer – Deutscher Brauer-Bund”, explains that the brewing industry is more sustainable than other beverage sectors.

How sustainable is the beer industry?

According to industry estimates, there are about three to four billion returnable beer bottles in circulation in Germany. Overall, German brewers fill over 80 percent of their brewed beer in returnable bottles. This does not include draught beer. The breweries are the only German beverage industry to meet the lawmakers’ reusable target of 70 percent. In terms of waste avoidance and recycling management, the brewing industry is thus far more sustainable than all other beverage industries.

Is the deposit a problem solver for the supply of empties?

Of course, there can always be bottlenecks in the supply of empties, especially during the hot season, when demand for beverages often rises in leaps and bounds. This is not new for any beverage producer. The bottlenecks can vary regionally and seasonally. The number of different containers/packages continues to grow. New brands and new varieties are coming on to the market and there is a trend towards even more retail promotion activities. Difficulties in beverage logistics such as a shortage of drivers exacerbate the situation even further. In addition, more and more glassworks in Europe have closed in recent years, so that breweries’ demand for new glass cannot always be satisfied as wished. In sum, there are thus a large number of factors that create challenges and hurdles in the returnable system.

What new solution methods are there?

Together with other associations, the German Brewers’ Association has set up an internal working group to deal with the maintenance and further development of the reusable pool system in Germany. Other topics of discussion are the possibilities of increasing the deposit rates for crates and bottles, the loss of crates and bottles and bottlenecks in logistics. In principle, it should be noted that the situation regarding returnable empties is very complex and there are no easy answers and no simple solutions to the problems described above. This is another reason why we do not want to anticipate the outcome of these consultations.

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