SABMiller wants to encourage development of returnable beer bottles

SAB Miller
Major brewery SABMiller has said that it wants to reduce its waste impact by encouraging ways that its beer bottles can be returned for reuse.

In its latest sustainability report, the global brewer said that 49 per cent of its beer is sold in returnable packaging, which is much more carbon efficient throughout its lifecycle than cans, PET bottles or non-returnable bottles.

In the report, SABMiller said: “Around half of our beer is sold in returnable packaging. For example, in Latin America the super-returnable bottles used by Bavaria in Columbia are refilled an average of 44 times. Now we are targeting improvements in Europe, where we already have 700 million returnable glass bottles in circulation but where there are large differences between markets in returnable bottle penetration and consumer behaviour.

“There are tensions. A recent study in Europe examined the potential barriers to bottles being returned: some consumers are very loyal and committed to using returnable bottles, while others find it inconvenient to return empty bottles to the retailer.

“The extended lifecycle of a returnable bottle can also potentially stifle innovation in packaging. Our goal is to learn from markets where the returnable culture is strong and to promote increased innovation in this space. Poland will take the lead as we move from research to action to make the returnable system work better.”

This is part of a goal that by 2020 the company reduces its carbon footprint from packaging by 25 per cent.

It also has a goal that by the same date it will divert a very high proportion of brewery waste from landfill and create new value waste.

So far, it is reusing or recycling 95 per cent of the waste from its breweries.