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29th June 2020

Water UK and British Beer & Pub Association urge operators to apply imminently for beer disposal

Licensees urged to contact water wholesalers as soon as possible before disposing of unsaleable beer ahead of pubs re-opening on July 4th.

Water industry trade body Water UK and the British Beer & Pub Association have come together to ask landlords, who have not already done so, to act quickly in order to ensure their applications to dispose of waste beer into the sewer can be processed efficiently.

Water companies are standing by to help and have made it as easy as possible to dispose of beer by making disposal applications simpler, cutting bureaucracy and waiving fees.

To protect the environment, it is vital pubs get the permission of their water company before disposing of beer into the sewer. This is especially important as in a small minority of cases water companies might not be able to help for operational or environmental reasons.

In the majority of cases, beer that has become unsaleable as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown, will need to be destroyed in the pub. However, where a robust risk assessment allows for the recovery of beer kegs and casks, publicans are being encouraged to consider other options for repurposing spoilt beer i.e. as an addition to animal feed or feed for anaerobic digestion.

Water UK Chief Executive Christine McGourty said:

Were really keen to see pubs open their doors again and have been doing everything we can to help make that happen.

We obviously have to consider the environmental problems that can be caused by putting large quantities of beer in the sewer system, where it can reach rivers and waterways. Its important this process is managed carefully to avoid any damage to fish and marine life.

The quicker landlords can get applications in, where theres no alternative disposal route, the easier it will be for water companies to help them open in time, and were all looking forward to that.”

Emma McClarkin Chief Executive of the BBPA said:

“It is vital that pubs are able to open their doors and get back to serving their customers and local communities as soon as possible from 4th July.

The BBPA has been working closely with Government and the water industry to ensure   pubs are prepared for re-opening, including destroying beer that has become unsaleable as a result of the COVID-19 shut down and disposal via the sewer where this is possible.

“We would encourage all landlords and publicans to get any applications in to water companies as soon as they can to ensure a smooth process ahead of July 4.”


For further information, please contact:

David Wilson, Public Affairs Director, BBPA: 07557 405815

Nick Lawrie, Digital Communications Manager, BBPA: 020 7627 9156/ 07824 359 013

William Davies, Communications Manager, Water UK:  07787 246 613


Notes to editors:

  • Water UK is the trade body representing all of the major water and wastewater companies in the UK. Our members provide drinking water to nearly 64 million people every day
  • The British Beer & Pub Association is the leading body representing Britain’s brewers and pub companies. The Association is more than a century old and was originally founded as the Brewers’ Society in 1904. Our members account for some 90 per cent of beer brewed in Britain today, and own around 20,000 of the nation’s pubs.
  • In response to the closure of pubs as a result of Covid-19, recognising the scale of this issue and to minimise health and safety risks associated with uplifting heavy kegs and casks from cellars, HMRC has allowed for beer to be destroyed in cellars for the purposes of reclaiming duty without supervision from a brewery representative. The BBPA has developed an online platform to simplify this process –
  • Alternative uses for waste beer according to the DEFRA food & drink waste hierarchy include as feed material for anaerobic digestion or further processing as animal feed. Further advice on how to repurpose waste beer in this way can be found through the following organisations:


Anaerobic Digestion and Bioresources Association

Renewables Energy Association

Agricultural Industries Confederation