Recycle and reuse should be a goal of every business and every consumer. Here are some cool examples in the craft brewing sector to motivate you. Back in April, Allagash Brewing Co. announced the establishment of its Recycling Co-Op. The collaboration invites local breweries to bring their hard-to-recycle materials to the Allagash warehouse where it will then be collected and properly recycled. Pilot partners in the Co-Op include Maine Beer Co., Bissell Brothers Brewing and Foundation Brewing Co.
Here’s another example: Since launching in early May, environmentally conscious consumers have turned in nearly 20,000 of those not-curbside-recyclable can carriers (pictured above) for reuse and proper recycling, dropping them off at Lamplighter Brewing Co. in Cambridge, Mass., Aeronaut Brewing Co. in Somerville, Mass., Harpoon Brewery’s harbor side beer hall and Trillium Brewing’s two Boston locations. Out of that number, around 8,000 carriers were donated to smaller Boston area breweries such as Portico Brewing, Bone Up Brewing Co., Remnant Brewing and others for reuse in packaging their beer. That’s smart and cool.
The remaining 335 lbs of HDPE No. 2 plastic carriers were hauled away by GreenLabs Recycling, the program’s sponsor, delivering it to a local plastics processor to be shredded, melted and then pelletized into raw material for new plastic products. The idea is catching on. From the press release:
It’s not just Metro Boston that has seen a surge in collections. Statewide, a notable uptick has occurred in consumer turn-ins of used carriers at practically every brewery or beer store willing to accept them. Inspired by success stories such as Stone Cow Brewing in Barre, which has packaged some 200,000 cans in sanitized and re-used carriers since initiating its reuse operation, or Scituate’s Untold Brewing, which has reused more carriers than any brewery in the state during the last year, many in the industry are realizing the benefits of such efforts. As a result, numerous breweries have revamped their collections efforts while dozens more have joined the movement. Both Navigation Brewing in Lowell and Bone Up Brewing in Everett have met with such success that they no longer need to buy new carriers and are instead pocketing the savings in packaging cost.
The number of verified can carrier collections programs now stands at nearly 100, and the Mass. Brew Bros. website has even created a state-wide map so consumers can find their nearest location. Not only are breweries benefitting from their own collections programs, but those willing to reuse have access to hundreds of additional carriers from larger breweries like Exhibit ‘A’ in Framingham and True North Ales in Ipswich. High volume production makes it impractical for such breweries to reuse carriers but hasn’t stopped them from demonstrating corporate social responsibility (CSR) by collecting and then donating or properly recycling them.
Craft beverage producers in other industries have also taken notice. Artifact Cider Project is planning to initiate collections programs at both its Northampton production facility and its Cambridge taproom. Additionally, cannabis dispensary Theory Wellness, which packages its popular THC-infused Hi5 seltzer in plastic can carriers, will soon announce the launch of a take-back program at all three of its Massachusetts locations, with the potential to expand it to some 30 more dispensaries that it distributes to across the state.