Breweries need to find a balance between a profitable business and good environmental citizenship. Let’s not kid ourselves. Breweries take a heavy toll on water, create lots of wastewater and produce lots of packaging (read: garbage). There are steps your craft brewery can take to lessen its pollution output or just give back.
Some examples: Alaskan Brewing’s helping fund and promote ocean health with its cool CODE program; Tröegs is teaming up with the Pennsylvania Chapter of The Nature Conservancy to preserve the forested mountains of Kittatinny Ridge; and, hey, even Busch Beer is donating proceeds to the National Forest Foundation oddly using a game where you kill animals.
Here’s another step in the right direction: Atlanta-based Orpheus Brewing Co. has begun a return program for its used plastic can carriers. That’s cool and commendable. Orpheus drinkers can now return used carriers to any of Orpheus’s taprooms and receive an incentive off future beer purchases. Ok, that’s even cooler. Once a sufficient number of carriers have been returned, they are collected in bulk by WaveGrip (the carrier maker) and recycled into products as diverse as decking and road paving.
Right now, Orpheus operates a 20-bbl, 16,000-sq-ft brewhouse and taproom, focused on four core beers and a wide range of specials and seasonsl. The brewery has an excellent goal of reducing its overall packaging footprint, so it chose WaveGrip, but not just for its recyclability. Weighing only 3.5 g for a standard six-pack carrier, WaveGrip touts that it provides an 85 percent reduction in material usage when compared to HDPE plastic handles and a 10 percent savings when compared to traditional ring carriers. Compared to HDPE carriers, WaveGrip also allows for up to 370 percent more carriers per pallet (those are all WaveGrip’s numbers), thereby reducing overall shipment costs as well as fuel consumption and the greenhouse gas footprint for the brewery.
From the press release:
“The sustainability of WaveGrip was fundamental to our choice of carriers and has helped to significantly reduce our packaging usage,” commented Remco Bos, CEO of Orpheus Brewing. “The final part for us was ensuring that with its recyclability we could ensure that each WaveGrip carrier was not wasted. Our Carrier Recycle Program now delivers this, and by incentivizing our customers to return their carriers we have a win-win situation for both the environment and them.”
Aaron McIvor, managing director for WaveGrip concluded: “We know how important sustainability is to our customers and it is integral to our WaveGrip products and development. We are therefore delighted to support this initiative by Orpheus Brewing and ensure that WaveGrip carriers are collected as part of a circular approach to packaging. We very much hope that this is the first step in launching a wider collection plan in the U.S. and will be working closely with our existing and new customers to support their initiatives in the return of used carriers in the coming months.”