Beer industry leaders have warned of “extreme packaging costs” which are taking a toll on the sector as it also grapples with rising energy prices and the cost of living crisis. 

According to the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), brewers saw prices for recycling fees rise by 111% in 2022, with further increases likely. It attributed the rise to the “rocketing costs” of Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) – a certificate producers are required to buy to prove that the packaging material they use has been recovered or recycled by an accredited waste management company.

Government reforms on PRN are not due to be implemented until 2024, causing concern among producers who fear 2023 will see further increases as prices remain uncapped. 

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the BBPA, said urgent intervention is needed to prevent further price hikes: “Extreme PRN costs had a huge impact on our sector last year compounding significant increases in 2021 and yet they continue to go uncapped and to a large extent unnoticed by government. This is a market that is out of control and silently damaging many of our much-loved brewers’ businesses.”

McClarkin also noted that when combined with the additional costs of the upcoming Deposit Return Scheme, as well as “vast energy prices and inflationary cost pressures”, some businesses will be unable to continue operating. 

“We need intervention from government on PRNs now, not in a year’s time”, she concluded.