I’m always tipping the collective CBB hat to beer professionals that say, hey, let’s maybe not create so much trash already. As an example, I’m an enormous fan of the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative’s returnable beer bottle program that (last we checked) had seven craft breweries on board. Here’s another example, again from the Beaver State: The Oregon Brewers Festival teamed up with Agilyx, an Oregon-based company that does chemical recycling of post-consumer plastics, to recycle festival mugs used during this year’s super popular event, which took place in late July.
Throughout the four-day event, more than 1,300 lbs of used plastic beer mugs were collected and delivered to Agilyx, which basically transforms otherwise non-recyclable plastics into a wide range of products. The company describes the recycling end product as a “premium refinery grade crude oil feedstock that is sold into commerce and provides the flexibility to be used in multiple products. We also have broadened our solutions platform to be the only company in the world that can take waste polystyrene and produce styrene monomers that can be fully recycled back into polystyrene products.”
The latter is what Agilyx is doing here, and its why polystyrene was chosen for the festival mugs. Using Agilyx’s chemical recycling process, the used mugs were converted back into their original liquid monomer form at the Regenyx facility in Tigard, Ore. — a joint venture of Agilyx and Americas Styrenics dedicated to the full circular reuse of post-consumer polystyrene. We have to assume that processing looks something like this.
The festival encouraged attendees onsite and via social media to recycle the plastic mugs at blue collection barrels placed at all four entry/exit gates (see image above).
From the press release:
“Our collaboration with the Oregon Brewers Festival demonstrates how easy it is for large, multi-day events to reduce waste by choosing a plastic that is amenable to chemical recycling,” said John Desmarteau, director of business development for Agilyx. “Additionally, through our partnership with AmSty, we are truly creating a circular pathway for polystyrene. We echo OBF’s excitement in diverting thousands of mugs from the landfill. Our innovative process demonstrates how every piece of post-use plastic has value and can be transformed into new, useful products.”
This is just another example of how breweries, festival organizers and suppliers can find new ways to work greener and then market that to customers. Such good corporate citizenship earns breweries or festivals the right to brag about it.
“We were so thrilled to partner with Agilyx for the first time this year and recycle thousands of our used beer mugs,” explained Mitzi Sugar, a master recycler and the recycling coordinator for the Oregon Brewers Festival. “As glass is not allowed in Portland parks, and compostable cups are no longer accepted in the city’s commercial composting program, polystyrene is the festival’s most affordable option for a drinking vessel. Teaming up with Agilyx helped us divert a large quantity of plastic from the landfill, and it’s exciting to know that the used beer mugs will be recycled into the same or similar products. The Oregon Brewers Festival is committed to reducing its environmental impact, and we’re looking forward to partnering with Agilyx in the years to come!”
In other recycling efforts, the Oregon Brewers Festival:
- Donated all unused beer mugs to Birch Community Services for its Sustainable Families Program, which empowers families with the tools they need to overcome financial difficulty
- Recycled 170 lbs of clean and dry film plastic bags through Fred Meyer, a participating retailer for the TREX Recycling Program, which turns plastic bags into Earth-friendly TREX composite decking and railings
- Collected 760 lbs of used cooking oil from the food vendors and recycled it through Oregon Oils, a local biodiesel recycling company
- Composted 1,140 lbs of food scraps
- Recycled over 2,700 lbs of cardboard and other recyclable materials