Estonia facing recycling dilemma

Related tags Estonia

The Estonian Brewers' Association is concerned that a requirement
to buy back empty beer cans for recycling could get out of hand
once the country joins the EU in May. Trans-border purchases of
beer, already very high, will increase substantially when customs
restrictions are lifted, making it harder than ever to recover the

According to the Baltic News Service​, the Estonian authorities currently oblige the country's brewers to collect 60 per cent of the beer cans produced in the country, but the association is looking for this figure to be reduced to a more reasonable 20 per cent on the grounds that beer cans discarded in Finland will not damage the Estonian environment, the principle reason for the ruling.

With Estonia's accession to the EU on 1 May, consumers will be allowed to take 110 litres of beer out of the country, compared to just 16 litres at present, which means that even more cans are likely to be consumed outside the country.

Domestic consumption of canned beer is around 28 million cans, compared to the 138 million cans actually produced, but brewers are required to buy back 60 per cent of the amount produced​, even if it is clear that most of this is not consumed in Estonia itself.

With something approaching 110 million beer cans going abroad each year, the chances of Estonian breweries meeting their recycling targets - and thus avoiding fines - are likely to be slim indeed if the government sticks to its 60 per cent threshold.

Glass bottles are the most popular container for Estonian beer, although PET is now becoming more widespread, with around 18 per cent of the market. In neighbouring Latvia, however, PET has around 70 per cent of the beer market.

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