Battle over bottle

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

  Spirited row Who is responsible for recycling glass bottles? Pubs or breweries? A uk High Court clarified this knotty situation while passing its verdict in a recent case. The court said that pubs rather than the breweries should take care of their packaging waste. And although Valpak, the industry's largest recycling organisation, is claiming victory over the environment agency following the court's verdict, the latter has yet to decide whether or not to appeal. The focal point of the case was the issue of 'seller's' onus. Under the uk Producer Responsibility (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 for products sold in pubs, retailers are responsible for packaging waste. The question being considered was whether a customer buys only the drink within a bottle or both the bottle and the drink. The environment agency maintained that it was the former case, meaning that the bottle did not fall under the ambit of packaging. But the judge agreed with Valpak that it was pubs who were responsible.

Earlier, most of pubs were owned by major brewers who took upon themselves the obligation of packaging waste. However, after restructuring in the industry many breweries have withdrawn from the retail end of the sector and argue that they are not responsible for the full recycling burden. Significantly, only those companies which have an annual turnover of us $2.9 million are required to address the issue of packaging waste.

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