Big plastic beer bottles banned from 2020

The Saeima on May 11 approved banning large plastic bottles of strong beer and spirits.

From September 1, 2020 it will be prohibited to sell alcohol in large plastic bottles. The law will apply to beer, cider and alcoholic cocktails and a variety of intermediate products such as fortified wines, vermouth, liqueurs and liqueur wines. 

The changes were approved in the final reading of amendments to the Spirit Drinks Act and are intended to cut down on excessive consumption of alcohol.

However, attempts to make the legislation take effect more quickly were defeated, allowing people another three years to chug down the booze after manufacturers said they needed a lengthy transition period to put their products in smaller bottles.

On the bill the responsible Saeima Economic, Agricultural, Environmental and Regional Policy Committee Chairman Romāns Naudiņš states that, together with the Ministry of Health led to the introduction of changes in the past and not to delay the entry into force, but above a majority rejected it. R.Naudiņš emphasizes that "cheap beer, vodka smuggling and gambling makes the Latvian economy is weaker."

"These are important limitations to reduce alcohol consumption in Latvian after more than 25 years of independence and in the future to prevent such alcohol making it onto the shelves," said MP Romans Naudins, who has led the legislation through parliament. He said he regretted the ban had not been introduced from this September.

The changes requires that beer, and other fermented alcoholic beverages as well as intermediate products will be banned from sale in plastic bottles with a volume of more than half a liter if the drink is stronger than 5.8% alcohol. Also such beverages may not be sold in plastic bottles with a capacity of over one liter, even if their strength is under 5.8%.

Restrictions not apply to glass, ceramic, wood, metal or complex packaging consisting of a polymer or a laminate bag, packed in a cardboard box. Breweries and specialized stores of draft beer sales will be allowed in large plastic bottles.

For the prohibition to apply, the bill was approved in advance  by the European Commission.

Since 2009 the most consumed alcoholic drink is beer with Ministry of Health figures saying that in 2015 absolute alcohol per capita consumption over the age of 15 years was 10.8 liters per annum.

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