Adnams boss questions whether glass bottles should be included in national deposit return scheme
- Credit: Archant
Andy Wood says more research is required to see if improvements to current recycling services are greener than including glass products in a money-back deposit scheme.
The Government has set out plans for the deposit return scheme (DRS), which would see consumers charged an additional deposit when buying a drinking bottle, which would be reimbursed when they return it.
It wants to see the DRS rolled out across the country by 2023 and in a recent consultation found that a large majority of the respondents would like plastic bottles (94%), aluminium cans (94%) and glass bottles (86%) included in the scheme.
But Mr Wood, chief executive at Southwold's Adnams says, while he believes plastic bottles and metal cans are suitable, more work needs to be done to prove that including glass in the DRS is more environmentally-friendly than the glass recycling services currently running.
Speaking on the The Beer & Pubcast, the podcast of the British Beer & Pub Association, Mr Wood said: "In general terms, we are supportive of this initiative but we would like to check out the science around this because sometimes there are unintended consequences.
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"The consumer has gotten quite used to recycling glass and I think we can improve that [current] scheme."
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Mr Wood said more than 30% of Adnams contained products, such as its Ghost Ship and Broadside ales, come in glass bottles, and that including glass in the deposit scheme would have major implications for his and other companies.
He added: "You will be back-hauling empty glass on lorries, you will be running equipment that consumes energy, you will have glass standing around in yards, which is very space hungry.
"We have to understand the whole mechanics of this before we rush into it because we may be able to leap over with innovation and technology where some of the leading countries are at the moment - we've got a real opportunity and we should cover this in the round and keep our minds open to what might be the optimal solution."
Asked if he thought rural pubs might become a deposit return centre for used bottles, Mr Wood said he felt it would help cement their place in the community.
"In a sense that's already happening - up and down the land there are bottle banks in pub car parks," he continued.
"Anything that brings pubs to the centre of their community is a really good thing. People feel a real sense of ownership to their pub - it is an amenity for the village.
"If it [DRS] can used in a really positive way, that's great."
According to Government figures, UK consumers go through an estimated 14 billion plastic drinks bottles, 9 billion drinks cans and 5 billion glass bottles each year and Mr Wood said staff across Adnam's pubs and stores would be prepared for the DRS when it arrives.
He added; "We are looking at it - it is some way off yet. We have a business that is very adaptable and flexible - we've changed the business a number of times over the last few years and our staff and supply change are ready to adapt.
"Generally, we are absolutely supportive of the notion of a circular economy where somebody's waste becomes somebody else's fuel source, becomes somebody else's product.
"That has to be a principal if we as a developed economy are going to make the necessary changes to deal with what is happening in terms of climate change."
Lightweight beer bottle
Mr Wood was speaking after case studies featuring Adnam's projects were included in the British Beer & Pub Association report: 'Brewing Green: A Greener Future for British Beer & Pubs', which examines the brewing industry's sustainability developments.
It includes details of Adnams' work to develop a lightweight beer bottle with bottle maker O-I, which the company says has lead to carbon savings totalling more than 1,100 tonnes per annum and a reduction in glass waste of over 1,250 tonnes.
Mr Wood said other beer makers had followed suit, leading to an "arms race" as companies vied with each other to reduce the weight of their bottles.
He added: "This is competition working in a really positive way. It's positive for us and positive for the whole industry - all these [reduced] carbon emissions and all this efficiency is built into the system."