FT: Liquor barons take on glass manufacturers

The Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies are up in arms against glass bottle manufacturers after the latter's demand that Indian Made Forein Liquor companies use only 'virgin' bottles each time spirits are bottled afresh.

The tussle is a fallout of a recent survey carried out by ORG Marg which among other things found that 35 per cent of all liquor bottles in India were recycled and that by doing so, liquor comoanies were avoiding excise duty, causing the national and state exchequers heavy lossses.Reacting sharply to survey CIABC secretary Pramod Krishna has written to the Union ministry of health and family welfare as also to the secretary general of ASSOCHAM Jayan Bhuyian and the Glass Manufacturers Association highlighting their views and plight."Recycling bottles is a worldwide parctice in the soft drinks and spirits industry. Due care is taken to ensure that bottles are washed and cleaned under hyegenic conditions. Recycling also prevents environmental problems," CIABC secretary Pramod Krishna said.

Speaking to the Times of India from Mumbai, Krishna pressed home the point that spirit bottles were much less likely to be infected if recycled than any other soft drink or beer bottle. "The alcohol percentage in beer (5 per cent ) and wine (12 per cent) is much less in comoarisn to liquor (42.8). In soft drinks, the alcohol percentage is zero. Therefore at this high alcohol percentage of 42.8 v/v there is no likelihood of any bacterial growth or sustenance of any microbes. So its not us but the beer and soft drinks industries which are required to have elaborate, multiusage cleaning and washing systems," he said.

He added that second hand bottles used in the liquor industry also go through an elaborate brushing and washing and acid washing excercise before they enter the bottlery where they are risned under high pressure water jets.

"In fact new glass bottles are alkaline in nature and have to be risned thoroughly before filling liquor, otherwise it wouild change the composition of liquor which in turn may prove detrimental to the interest of the consumers," Krishna said .

Recylcing of bottles is a worldwide practice. Just because the glass botle industry here has been slow to modernise, doesn't mean they launch a campaign demanding proper regulations enforcing use of virgin bottles for packaging of products such as pharmacuiticals and alcoholic beverages," an angry Krishna said.

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