The Union of Russian Brewers, concerned about a possible ban on plastic bottles, said the largest companies would stop producing beer in large packaging from next year, the RBK Daily reported. The allegations that plastic emits poisonous substances into beer were dismissed as anti-scientific speculation, while head of the Ochakovo brewery Alexei Kochetov even said he would duel with any person defaming the industry.
The directors of five large Russian breweries had announced the decision to give up bottling beer in 2.5-liter plastic packaging and strong beer (over 6 %) in two-liter plastic packaging. Commenting on the Union's decision, its president Isaak Sheps stressed that bottling beer in plastic packaging was a widespread world practice: for example, a considerable amount of beer so bottled was sold in the markets of the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Rumania which all complied with strict product safety norms established by the European Union.
Nevertheless, Mr. Sheps, president of Baltika Breweries, acknowledged that the presence of beer in large packaging on the market was an irritant for the public and the authorities. "As a responsible industry, we always heed the public opinion," Mr. Sheps said. "Although we do not violate any norms or rules, we decided to make this unprecedented move."
The dramatic statement notwithstanding, the packaging they are giving up does not actually contain that much beer. According to the Union, large packaging currently holds not more than 5% of all beer on the Russian market.
Mr. Sheps said brewers were ready to continue the dialogue with the Russian government, and acknowledged that the industry might agree to still tougher restrictions, such as giving up 1.5-liter packages. "If the state so wishes, we'll carefully consider it. But one has to understand that brewers will need more time and investment for rearranging production. To give up 1.5-liter packaging, we’ll need at least two years,” Mr. Sheps noted.
In the opinion of director of the CIFRA agency Vadim Drobiz, the brewers' self-imposed ban on large plastic packaging aims to avoid complete ban on plastic: “they made the first move, inviting the state for dialogue over the maximum admissible volume of plastic packaging for beer.”