INDIA: Liquor industry and glass-bottle manufacturers discuss recycling

Whareas India“s influential liquor industry, which contributes around INR 20,000 to the state exchequer annually, recently said that recycling liquor bottles is the way out to squeeze profits in a sl…

Whareas India“s influential liquor industry, which contributes around INR 20,000 to the state exchequer annually, recently said that recycling liquor bottles is the way out to squeeze profits in a sluggish economy, glass manufacturers maintain that bottle recycling is unhealthy. The latter have protested at the reuse of market bottles in the Indian liquor industry, as it has led to lower volumes in bottle sales. The beverage alcohol industry, which has invested heavily in sterilization equipment, has countered this argument stating that reuse of bottles has led to resource savings, even while maintaining high standards of hygiene. With the general slowdown all around hurting the glass manufacturers deeper than its affluent counterpart, glass manufacturers have been up in arms demanding that the liquor industry should not encourage the practice of reusing market bottles. They are arguing that the conditions in some of the distilleries are sub-standard, and not best suited for cleaning bottles. But liquor industry sources differ, saying that if the government finds that the cleaning is not carried out adequately in a distillery to safeguard the health of a consumer, it may prescribe certain hygienic standards for the use of recycled bottles. The liquor industry has also thrown a spanner in the works, questioning the quality of the glass bottles. The industry has alleged that the glass manufacturers have not been able to produce world-class lightweight bottles. It has said in no uncertain terms that if the standoff continues, the industry might have to use bottle variants. The reality is that reuse of market bottles has contributed to the cost management initiatives of the beverage industry, and companies will continue to reuse bottles. Recycling bottles is a practice adhered to by some of the world“s best beverage companies, and the alcohol industry is looking to state governments for support in encouraging this practice.