Sustainability: What brewers are doing
Brewing is a thousands of years’ old craft that keeps evolving – and today, it is meeting the challenges that our planet is facing. Brewers have a strong track record of reducing, reusing and recycling beer packaging.
Packaging is essential for beer. It allows people to enjoy beer anywhere, anytime.
Europe’s rich range of beers comes in all sizes, shapes and varieties of packaging materials.
Robust, airtight containers are needed to hold, transport and dispense beer, while protecting it from leakage, contamination, sunlight exposure, or loss of fizz. Whatever the package type and size, it is crucial to the beer and must guarantee safety, quality and hygiene.
What brewers are doing
Beer bottles may be re-used and re-filled over 30 times before being broken up and sent to glass recycling centres to be made into new bottles.
The crates for transporting the bottles are also reusable and can have a lifespan of over fifty years.
Glass is 100% recyclable. It has an unlimited life and can be melted and recycled endlessly to make new glass products with no loss in quality or purity.
Aluminium cans can be recycled over and over without substantial loss of quality.
Recycling has been estimated to save around 95% of the energy and emissions needed to produce primary aluminium*.
The cans are shredded, then melted and cast into ingots or rods to make new products.
* European Aluminium, 2016
In bars, cafés, restaurants, events and festivals, beer is often sold on draught.
It is dispensed from steel, aluminium, PET and wooden kegs and casks, many of which can be re-used for 30 years or even more before being crushed and recycled.
Brewers strive to extend the life of the materials they use, utilising recycled materials and refillable and recyclable packaging to preserve resources and energy.
Over the years, brewers have also pioneered the set-up and support of efficient collection systems, including through the use of «reverse» vending machines as shown here, for both reusable packaging and recyclable containers.
Brewers have continued to develop exciting innovations, such as cardboard toppers and glue-based solutions for sixpacks; recycled shrink wrap; cartons made using barley straw; crates made from 100% recycled content; and even bottles made with sustainably sourced wood fibre.
Packaging: latest initiatives
By signing the pledge, AEI has committed to making marketing part of the solution in the fight against climate change.
In summer 2020, Spain’s Mahou San Miguel began to produce its first plastic-free packaging as part of its plan to save 90 tonnes of plastic per year. The scheme replaces the rings around the beer can packs with biodegradable cardboard.
The BeerTrim nozzle is a simple, waste-saving device designed to improve tap performance and bar efficiency. A patented gadget that retrofits onto any beer pipe or tap, BeerTrim uses laminar flow to ensure a smooth and stable flow of beer from the tap with minimal foaming and fobbing.