The successful program that rescued and reused 10,000 can carriers during a two-month pilot in metro Burlington late last year will soon expand throughout Vermont. Dubbed the Reusiverse by its creators, Reusable Solutions Founder Ben Kogan and EcoFriendlyBeer.com Founder Rob Vandenabeele, the popular reduce-reuse-recycle model was implemented at dozens of additional taproom and retail locations starting on Earth Day.
The expansion was made possible through a collaboration involving logistical support from the Vermont Brewers Association (VBA) and craft distributor Vermont Beer Shepherd, along with fiscal sponsorship from Lawson’s Finest Liquids and solar energy provider SunCommon. The VBA has taken an active role in recruitment and communications with its member breweries, Beer Shepherd will help get collected carriers delivered to breweries that want to reuse them, and both Lawson’s and SunCommon have provided funding to ensure that dozens more breweries can be added to an expanding state-wide infrastructure.
The expansion effort will build on notable and measurable outcomes from the recent pilot, including a popular take-back program that raised consumer awareness, inspired thousands to save and return their carriers, and decreased delivery vehicle emissions because much of the difficult-to-recycle plastic packaging was instead reused. The environmentally conscious breweries that chose to reuse also decreased or eliminated their packaging costs at a time when manufacturers have imposed price hikes.
The initiative’s interactive map, which enables consumers to find their nearest take-back location, will soon be populated with dozens of new taproom and retail locations. By accessing the map’s list feature and clicking on an individual location, consumers can learn more about what each business does with its collected carriers: reuse them, donate them, or properly recycle them.
With the world’s proliferation of plastic production expected to continue, the importance of establishing successful reuse schemes to combat single-use plastic’s environmental impact has never been greater. Though difficult to calculate with precise figures, creating a market for reusing carriers prevents unnecessary energy use, decreases GHG emissions, and spares wildlife harm from entanglement or microplastic ingestion that sometimes occurs when plastic packaging is improperly disposed of.
Hunger Mountain Co-op in Montpelier, Stowe Public House & Bottle Shop, Craft Beer Cellar in Waterbury and City Market stores in Burlington have recently been added as verified collection locations, as have Meuleman’s Craft Draughts in Rawsonville and Jake’s Market locations in Burlington and Quechee. 14th Star Brewing in St. Albans is the newest brewery to join the effort. Consumers are encouraged to weigh in on the Vermont Craft Beer Fans group page about where they’d like some of the up-to-50 new take-back venues to be located. Retailers and breweries interested in joining the expanded state-wide effort should contact [email protected].