At the Union Brewery in Bremen, the team makes sure to use bottles that are as suitable as possible for sustainable deposit systems. Longneck bottles in green or brown are possible alternatives. (Editing: kreiszeitung.de) © Marvin Köhnken & Alexandra Turkina/imago
The EU is developing new rules for deposit systems. The outcry in the beer industry was great – now there is a dialogue to prevent the end of the German beer bottle. In Bremen, people would also like to see more regionality.
Bremen/Brussels – In the 27 member states of the European Union (EU), there will be a new packaging regulation in the future. These plans have recently led to uncertainty. With the introduction of a new system, the future of reusable bottles and beverage crates used in Germany is at stake. Above all, the German Brewers' Association criticized the EU plans.
The declared goal of the EU Commission is to avoid packaging waste and to promote the circular economy in all EU countries. The German brewers, on the other hand, feared in a message from Ende above all the expected bureaucracy of the system, the idea of a "permanently attached labeling" on bottles and the incompatibility of beverage crates with the new requirements.
EU Commission: "Deposit system in Germany a success"
At the beginning of June, the all-clear came: The EU Commission reacted to the criticism and concretized the plans for the Packaging Regulation. Reusable bottles would not have to be melted down and put back on the market with an engraving. Paper labels should be perfectly sufficient to put a bottle into circulation. Even deposit boxes are probably not a problem. There is nothing to be said against exempting "transport packaging in existing reusable systems" from the rule. This stipulates that the empty space of a package must be less than 40 percent.
Deposit crates make up a considerable part of beer logistics – also at Beck's in Bremen. The current stocks would probably not be threatened with destruction with a new EU packaging regulation. © Marvin Köhnken
Instead of unhinging the deposit system in Germany, the EU Commission writes: "The deposit system in Germany is a success. The Commission shall also encourage other Member States and sectors to introduce such schemes." According to the study, an average of almost 180 kilograms of packaging waste per capita per year is currently generated in Europe. This is where the new system should start EU-wide.
Union Brauerei Bremen pleads for more regional systems when it comes to deposits
The fact that a joint dialogue on the planned packaging ordinance has now been launched is not only pleasing to the Brewers' Association. Markus Zeller from the Union Brewery in Bremen also sees the discussion on the right track. One does not assume the abolition of the proven containers. "Rather, our system is to some extent a model for the EU," the co-founder of the Union Brewery is convinced.
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So far, it has not been seen that the EU is also focusing on regional systems, says Markus Zeller. Short distances and suppliers who use neutral reusable bottles are points that would further advance the existing system in Germany. In the brewery in Bremen-Walle, the numerous beer creations are filled into so-called longneck bottles.
As a topic for the near future, the Zeller goes one step further: Increasing the deposit rates would also lead to the circular economy being promoted in Germany and the EU. Most recently, Sebastian Priller from the Riegele brewery in Augsburg had also made such a demand. 25 cents for a bottle and 10 euros for a box are appropriate. These prices correspond to what breweries lose due to lost containers, according to the brewery boss.
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Markus Zeller from Bremen has a piece of advice for all consumers to enjoy more sustainably: "Every customer can pay attention to what kind of bottles beer is filled into." Standardised bottles favour regional systems, both in the north and in the south of the republic. Even when buying Bavarian beers that are not sold in Langneck bottles, a conscious look at the shape of the bottles helps – because despite all the variety of beers in the Free State, attention is often paid to uniform vessels.