The San Diego craft beverage community has always been known for its collaborative and supportive nature and now a number of breweries are coming together in an effort to increase sustainability and create a larger impact when it comes to recycling practices at their facilities.
The San Diego Brewcycling Collaborative aims to bring the San Diego craft beverage industry together through program support and education to sort, separate, and prepare recyclable items to be responsibly processed in order to make the industry more sustainable.
“The collaborative was born from a desire to find a recycling solution for Paktechs, the can toppers that keep cans together in a 6-pack.” Tom Kiely, Thorn Brewing’s GM states. “In the process of finding a solution, we identified other items which could be recycled if our breweries worked together to isolate and combine them. This process is similar to how plastic bags, electronics, clothing, and other materials that are not accepted in curbside recycling bins and dumpsters can still be recycled through other means. By separating, baling, and selling certain materials, we are guaranteeing that they will be re-used and recycled instead of buried in a landfill.”
By partnering with Slow Food Urban San Diego, The County of San Diego, The Bountiful Bag, JuneShine Hard Kombucha, Pizza Port, Nickel Brewing, Misadventure Vodka, and Thorn Brewing, they are able to batch their recyclable materials including corrugated cardboard, shrink wrap, aluminum, and grain bags so that they can be handled directly by recyclers. This form of recycling, called “source separating,” requires more effort sorting materials upfront but significantly minimizes contamination. It also maximizes recyclability when compared to the standard “single-stream” recycling method of tossing everything into a single recycling container to be separated at the Materials Recovery Facility.
“I am very proud of the direction the SD Brewcycling Collaborative is trending towards.” Luke Suttmiller, Head Brewer and Sustainability Lead at JuneShine, explains. “We began meeting about this program back in June and the mindset was to take action, fail fast, and make a difference in the San Diego brewing industry as quickly as possible. We are currently wrapping up Phase 1 and are excited to see how Phase 2 can incorporate more companies to divert waste from the landfill. This program is only made possible by the participating breweries implementing proper waste sorting at their facilities and using their own labor to haul waste to JuneShine.”
The next step for the San Diego Brewcycling Collaborative is to open up program participation to more local beverage makers starting in January 2022 and increase the number of materials to be collected.