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Kompania Piwowarska has opened a bottle redemption center for returnable beer bottles. Any bottle!

Thanks to Kompania Piwowarska, in Poznań it will be easier to return beer bottles. On August 9th, near Lech Browary Wielkopolski brewery, a center will be opened where one will be able to return any returnable bottle of any producer, and receive either 50 groszy for a KP returnable beer bottle (Lech Premium, Lech Free, Lech Free Limonka, Lech Free Granat & Acai, Lech Free Pomelo & Grejpfrut, Lech, Wojak, Dębowe, Żubr, Prażubr, Kozel, Tyskie, Książęce) or 30 groszy for a returnable bottle of other producers. All this to promote the idea of returning bottles and increase the number of returned bottles for reuse.

Currently, the brewing industry is the only one using returnable packaging on a large scale. The market leader – Kompania Piwowarska – sells about half of its beer in such type packaging. Regretfully, despite unquestionable ecological and economic advantages – because beer in a returnable bottle is usually cheaper – Kompania Piwowarska breweries still do not recover all bottles that could be refilled which would help save natural resources and conserve the environment thanks to a significant reduction in the production of new bottles and waste.

Being aware of the above, Kompania Piwowarska decided to take action and make the return of returnable bottles into the supply chain easier.  Right next to its Poznań brewery (at the car park of M1 shopping center in Franowo), the company has opened a bottle redemption center. The facility is under the patronage of Lech Premium, however, it will receive any returnable beer bottle of any Polish brewery. The company will pay the deposit of PLN 0.50 for any Kompania Piwowarska brand returnable bottle, and PLN 0.30 for any returnable bottle from other manufacturers.

– Our Poznań-based center has two significant advantages which make it stand out from among other such initiatives. Firstly, consumers can expect a full deposit of 50 groszy if they return Kompania Piwowarska bottles. This is the amount they would have received at a store if they had presented their receipt. Secondly, they can bring us a half-liter bottle from any Polish producer, provided that it is marked as returnable. Our company will be responsible for exchanging such bottles with other breweries as this is in the interest of our whole industry – to return as many bottles as possible into the market, and as few as possible into the bin – explains Jakub Pałasz, who manages this project at Kompania Piwowarska.

The returnable bottle is the most ecological beer pack available on the shop shelf. It is estimated that if the production of returnable glass bottles were to stop, 600,000 tons of additional waste would be generated annually, and the glassworks would have to process this waste for 2 years working non-stop. This type of pack is used quite intensively – on average a returnable bottle goes into the trade filled with new beer four times a year. Also, on average, a bottle’s market life is 2 years during which period it goes into the trade and back 9 times, although it could be used at least 20 times. This is due to a low bottle return rate. 

- Among the main problems due to which the bottle return rate is so low is that retailers demand customers to present receipts confirming the purchase of beer in these packs. This is not a legal requirement, but a market practice with a long history. Currently, about half of customers buying beer in returnable bottles say that they need a receipt when they want to return their bottles – says Grzegorz Adamski, Public Affairs and Sustainable Development Manager at Kompania Piwowarska. - A bottle redemption center at the Poznań brewery is a real solution of the problem, as it removes the key formal obstacle. It will allow to recover more bottles during the beer season, when the demand is the greatest.

Out of nearly 1.3 billion returnable bottles injected into the trade every year, around 8%, or over 110 million bottles, never returns to Kompania Piwowarska’s breweries. It’s a waste for the environment and money that goes to waste. In 2018, bottles not returned to KP cost beer drinkers a total of PLN 58 million. Considering the fact that Kompania Piwowarska is responsible for approximately 35% of the beer market, and other large producers also face the problem of insufficient bottle return rate, the costs of this phenomenon in Poland are significant.

- Regretfully, returning bottles to shops still creates negative associations. Meanwhile, this is the 21st century and the returnable bottle should be viewed positively because it helps to protect the environment and saves money. We hope that our center will shift the thinking and show the real benefits of such behavior – summarizes Grzegorz Adamski.

The bottle redemption center at Lech Browary Wielkopolski in Poznań is a pilot initiative. The Company does not rule out the possibility of implementing similar facilities in other locations in the future.