Spirits to be exempt from EU packaging policy

The European Parliament has confirmed spirits will be excluded from the European Union’s proposed packaging laws, which would require that all packaging be recyclable by 1 January 2030.

Trade association Spirits Europe previously expressed concern over a proposed amendment to EU’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR), which included the spirits industry in measures such as increased requirements for all packaging in the EU to be considered recyclable.

Spirits Europe feared the measure could ‘standardise’ bottle designs and ‘undermine brand identity’.

Aline Maigret, head of policy at Zero Waste Europe, also said that the policy would hinder the EU’s net-zero goals as glass’s ‘incredibly high carbon footprint makes it unsuitable for single-use applications.’

Sarah Melina Siebel, director internal market and sustainability at Spirits Europe, said: “We applaud the decision of the Parliament to revert to the proposal of the European Commission which made it clear why exempting spirits from mandatory reuse targets is the most sensible and sustainable approach forward.

“Reuse and recycling solutions go hand in hand and complement each other in practice. However, given the structural and product-related specificities of our sector, flexibility is needed to ensure future development and consistent progress – a fact that is now reflected in the EP’s [European Parliament] position.”

Previously, the director general of Spirits Europe, Ulrich Adam, claimed bottle diversity “cannot be maintained” under an authorised reuse system, which would “kill off designs but won’t help to decarbonise the EU”.

Following the plenary vote yesterday (22 November), he doubled down on this, saying: “The European beverages sector, including alcoholic beverages, is marked by a huge diversity. To boost sustainability ambitions in meaningful and feasible ways in practice, rules on packaging need to reflect this.

“The European Parliament set an important precedent yesterday by acknowledging this diversity and allowing for the development of tailored approaches.”

The Parliament has also safeguarded intellectual property rights for spirits and excluded the category from mandatory minimisation rules, a move that will protect the diversity of brands, Spirits Europe said.

Adam added: “With such a decision, the diversity of creative designs and iconic shapes of spirits bottles will be maintained. It will now be important for members states in Council to adequately recognise and acknowledge these key points, too.

“Yesterday’s decision is an important milestone on the way to a successful completion of the file before the end of the current mandate.”

Recently, Spirits Europe appointed a new president, Ian McLernon, for a two-year term.

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Author: Rupert Hohwieler