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EU packaging rules could ‘standardise’ spirits bottles

The European Union’s Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) could ‘standardise’ the designs of spirits bottles and ‘undermine brand identity’, a trade body has warned.

The adopted provisions on packaging minimisation could threaten the diversity of spirits designs

Trade association Spirits Europe had previously backed the PPWR, which included the decision to avoid reuse targets for spirits.

Spirits Europe has voiced concerns over the recent vote on the proposed amendments to the PPWR, which fail to exclude spirits from reuse commitments. The European Parliament’s Committee on Environment (ENVI) recently revised the PPWR to include proposed measures such as increased requirements for all packaging in the EU to be considered recyclable.

The trade group said the ‘structural realities’ of the spirits sector had not been ‘adequately’ considered under the proposal.

Ahead of the second plenary session next month, Spirits Europe is calling for further amendments to the PPWR to include the spirits sector’s ‘continued exemption from mandatory reuse targets and improve the protection of iconic designs’.

Sarah Melina Siebel, director of internal market and sustainability at Spirits Europe, said: “The European Commission, in its impact assessment and legislative proposal, has made it clear why exempting spirits from mandatory reuse targets is the most sensible and most sustainable approach.

“We are very surprised to see the parliament deviate from that line. Compared to other alcoholic beverages, spirits typically move in significantly lower volumes, at much slower speed and over longer distances, hence mandated reuse is not the tool of choice from a sustainability point of view.”

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

He added: “We are facing an unretrievable loss of bottle diversity and craftsmanship in spirits, which will also negatively impact the 60% of bottles that go into export.”

Spirits Europe also said it was ‘deeply concerned’ that intellectual property (IP) rights for packaging would be ‘insufficiently protected’ by the current text used by the ENVI.

Under ENVI provisions, spirits bottles will be standardised, and creative designs and iconic shapes would gradually disappear, the trade body highlighted.

Adam said that the next plenary session must ensure that IP rights – not just design rights – are adequately safeguarded from compulsory packaging minimisation requirements.

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