01206 752212

Managing casks and kegs – good practice from the BBPA

Almost 50% of UK beer production is sold in kegs or casks which, when empty, are returned to the brewery for re-filling. The average life-span of a draught beer container is 15 years. Thus, the industry enjoys one of the most environmentally-friendly means of transporting beer to the consumer. Kegs and casks are returnable assets and form an integral part of the beer dispense system. A number of initiatives have been put in place to ensure containers (which may have been misappropriated) are recovered and returned to their owners. See www.kegwatch.co.uk.

Brewers have always made it clear that they ALWAYS retain ownership of their beer kegs and casks. (In addition a large number of containers are owned by a third-party logistics support company.) All containers are clearly identified with ownership details -conditions of trade place onus on the customer to ensure that empties are returned.

Many people have asked why the industry does not apply deposit charges to containers to ensure their return, but complex administrative procedures and cash flow difficulties for customers have precluded the introduction of deposits.

Legitimate disposal of kegs/casks is only organised through breweries and their authorised agents. Members of the Association follow an agreed industry policy for the disposal of containers.

Each year the loss and misuse of kegs and casks costs the beer industry in excess of £50m, as hundreds of thousands of kegs go missing in the pub trade. This cost burden is a serious problem and is unsustainable. The mounting bill affects everyone, including pubs, licensees and their customers.

Only by working together can we tackle this problem and ensure these costs are controlled – we really need your help.

Playing your part

When it comes to the safe and secure management of kegs and casks, everyone, from brewers to wholesalers and pubs, has a key role to play. That’s why the trade has been working together to ensure we all do our bit to encourage best practice in container management – at every stage in the supply chain.

Why should I bother?

Imagine a world without beer containers. Kegs and casks are a vital part of Britain’s brewing and pub heritage. Our beer and pub industry just wouldn’t work without them. The supply of draught beer on such a scale is unique to Britain – and something to be proud of. We must work as an industry to protect our system of delivering beer, and ensure it remains viable and sustainable.

Helping the environment

Kegs and casks are good for the environment. At any given time, there are up to 8 million kegs in use in the UK. They avoid the use of around 7.5 billion bottles or cans – every year.

Controlling industry costs

When it comes to managing containers, everyone benefits from storing kegs safely, securely and returning them promptly. Reduced keg losses will help to manage this soaring cost burden and the extent to which everyone in our industry is affected by its consequences.

How can you help?

There are six key things you need to do to ensure you are adopting best practice in your management of containers. Use these ‘six fixes’ as your constant checklist to ensure you are securely managing your
kegs and casks.

  1. KEEP THEM SAFE: Store them safely – store all containers in a safe place, preferably inside, from delivery to collection.
  2. SECURE THEM! If containers are left outside – secure them and don’t use them for any other purpose.
  3. PROMPT RETURN – Always return empty containers on each delivery and request the collection of surplus empties promptly to ensure containers always move efficiently through the system.
  4. CHECK YOUR PAPERWORK – Check your delivery note – when your empties are collected, always check that the right numbers are entered on the delivery note.
  5. ALWAYS SIGN – Sign it! – always sign your delivery note for both fulls and empties.
  6. ASK FOR ID – If in doubt, ask for identification – only authorised staff will collect your empties.

Keg Watch Limited

Keg Watch is a non-profit making industry organisation committed to reducing container losses. It represents UK brewers, cider makers and the major suppliers of dispense gases to the industry.

Keg Watch pays rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the theft or unauthorised destruction of containers.

Keg Watch operates a confidential free phone line – for general queries or information call free phone 0808 100 1945.