I just flamed some poor incompetent referenced by Dr. Charles. It is only fair to illustrate the kind of analysis that I think any competent policy discussion should reference.
This report from the Netherlands shows the kind of work that I respect. They analyze the implications of packaging decisions (glass bottle, plastic, re-use, etc.) on CO2 generation and energy use. It is clear how they approached the problem, the scientific basis for their analysis, their assumptions, their data sources, and a has clear presentation of their conclusions. They did not rush to an answer or force fit a pre-made conclusion. Unlike so many activitists, they did not ignore the many important energy issues related to packaging, recycling, etc.
I disagree with one of their policy assumptions, but this is one where reasonable people may disagree. I understand that their choice makes data analysis much easier and is in accord with reasonable tax and regulatory policy procedures. The problem assumption is that the CO2 and energy cost of transporting materials from the source (brewer, vintner, etc.) to the customer sales merchant is assigned to the product and not to split between the product and the package. So they assign all the shipping energy usage to the product. (From a regulatory perspective it would be very difficult to split any tax or regulation between product and package.)
The result, after examining their analysis, is a mistake in proposed regulatory emphasis. The energy tradeoff between re-usable bottles and bag-box packaging is distorted as a result. There should be a stronger regulatory emphasis on the bag-box packaging rather than the re-usable bottle packaging. The energy impact of this difference is modest, but the two are almost equal in the report's analysis.
From a public perception perspective, I also understand that the re-usable bottle may be preferred. Even though the total CO2 impact of the bag-box approach is slightly lower, people are uncomfortable with discarding the plastic bag. This may shift as a result of education regarding total system analysis, but that will take time.