Oregon Launches First Statewide Refillable Bottle System in U.S.

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by grilledsquid, Sep 17, 2018.

  1. grilledsquid

    grilledsquid Devotee (493) Jul 10, 2009 California
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  2. Alefflicted

    Alefflicted Initiate (78) Dec 2, 2017 Minnesota

    Well it's definitely an interesting concept. One that has worked quite well in Germany and a few other countries. Can't say that I'm opposed. As long as they are properly cleaned and handled this seems rather logical. Let's see if it goes over well, maybe it will actually catch on. Crazier things have happened.
     
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  3. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,704) Sep 24, 2007 Washington
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    Used to buy cases of Genny "pounders", 16oz returnable bottles in a heavy, waxed cardboard case, that would get refilled. I love this idea!
     
  4. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (5,782) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
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  5. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (5,782) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
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    And it used to work well here in the US too. From that article I posted:
    With the "localvore" movement, I can see this working again in places with an environmentally conscious population like Oregon.
     
  6. grilledsquid

    grilledsquid Devotee (493) Jul 10, 2009 California
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    A couple of years ago, I was working on a paper about the environmental impact of craft beer production. While I decided to switch topics at a certain point in my research, I did find that packaging accounts for a majority of the impacts across an average beer's entire life cycle (from agricultural production of the raw materials to disposal at end of life). Shifting towards reusable containers should be the most obvious solution, but I suspect the average consumer favors the convenience of single-use containers. While this is anecdotal, I typically observe more crowlers being filled if they're offered as opposed to refillable glass or steel growlers. I do hope the new system works, but consumers will likely need higher returns on their deposits for them to be incentivized.
     
  7. Oktoberfiesta

    Oktoberfiesta Aspirant (253) Nov 16, 2013 New Mexico

    The sanitary angle has always intrigued me. I believe there to be a big liability and a lot of breweries just not seeing value out of reusable containers.

    Glass bottles can contain imperfections from time to time. Not knowing exactly what your buying or even using to fill isnt a great confidence booster for a 'quality' product.

    Then again, I think I've been buying Mexican coca cola that have been re used and refilled and I'm still alive.

    NM doesn't do glass deposits. We end up throwing away massive amounts of glass. But with cans, I'm happy to take a 30 gallon trash bag full to the recycler and get my $6. So if they can do something for glass around here, that'd be great.
     
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  8. Steve_Sch

    Steve_Sch Initiate (25) Sep 18, 2018 Oregon

    The properly cleaned and handled is the big question. Sounds like a pain for businesses.
     
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  9. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,396) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    At Ayinger there is a station that scans reused bottles and rejects them if defective. This happens at line rate. Sierra Nevada does scans on new bottles, an do those go by at a blurry.

    The delabeler and sanitizing machine is large, hot, and wet. Lots of energy and water used.

    Which way is cheaper. Which is more green.
     
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  10. MNAle

    MNAle Meyvn (1,074) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    How can something that used to be common everywhere now be "first"?
     
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  11. MNAle

    MNAle Meyvn (1,074) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    "OBRC is talking with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality about quantifying exactly how much carbon the new program is saving, and they're working on bringing a bottle-washing facility to Portland. Until that facility is built — likely by 2020 — all the refillable bottles will be sent to a facility in Montana to be washed.

    But even with that drive, Schoening said, the carbon savings of refillable bottles are big.

    "Every time that bottle gets reused, you're cutting the carbon footprint of that bottle in half," Schoening said."


    Why check with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality when they already know the answer?
     
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  12. NickSMpls

    NickSMpls Meyvn (1,074) Nov 11, 2012 Washington
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    It seems from reading the article is that key to the program is to standardize on the bottle, so the brewery doesn't have to get "its" bottles back. The size is 500ml, which is a shade larger than the 22oz bomber.

    Any comment on the size? I have seen discussions on the 22 vs 16 oz and so forth, but not the 500 ml. (Unless I missed it which is entirely possible.) Locally, pFriem and Block 15 already bottle in that size. I hope the trend gets across the river to Washington.
     
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  13. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,396) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    A 500 ml bottle is 16.9 US oz.

    There are different 500 ml bottles in Germany. One is shorter, so the breweries can't have the tall ones in the return stream.
     
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  14. EmperorBatman

    EmperorBatman Initiate (37) Mar 16, 2018 District of Columbia

    Very interesting, and I hope it proves worthwhile.

    Right Proper has attempted to have a refillable bottle deposit system with swing-top bottles, but apparently they’re phasing it out because it costs too much and is too difficult to clean, apparently using many chemicals.

    This would need to be done on a practical scale with enough breweries participating to get a solid rotation in. Otherwise it’s just a waste.
     
  15. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,704) Sep 24, 2007 Washington
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    Ain't no different than washing and sanitizing kegs. Just different scaled equipment.
     
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  16. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,704) Sep 24, 2007 Washington
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    It's a thing that used to be the norm, but was pushed aside in favour of the disposable society norms we now live in. Televisions used to be repairable. Planned obsolescence is bad.
     
  17. HorseheadsHophead

    HorseheadsHophead Poo-Bah (1,595) Sep 15, 2014 New York

  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,812) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    In your research for your paper did you consider returnable bottles? Did you take a crack at quantifying the environmental impacts of trucking the bottles back to the place they would be processed, the environmental impacts of washing/sanitizing, etc.?

    Cheers!
     
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  19. rgordon

    rgordon Champion (883) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    The Germans have been doing this for quite a while. I've sold Mahrs, Kulmbacher, Weltenburger, Aecht Schlenkerla, and others and a certain type of persnickety customer would occasionally complain about the re-used bottles. As one put it, "I want perfect retail presentation". Some of the bottles had worn white edges on extremities. I thought they looked cool...
     
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  20. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,387) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Every brewery (well, except the draught-only ones) used to have a Meyer's Dumore bottle cleaner or equivalent.
    [​IMG]
    (Note that this model - which can do up to 600 bottles a minute - has the "Deluxe Trim" - what brewer would want the standard model once they see this beauty? :grin:)

    The idea that shipping bottles out of state to wash them and then trucking them back is somehow "green" is pretty perplexing.

    It should also be noted that that comment about 12% of US bottled beer came in refillables in 1980 is the US average. Oregon (an early adopter of mandatory deposits) itself was over 50% - it helped that local and nearby breweries like Blitz-Weinhard, Olympia and Rainier still had significant market share in state. Other brewery-centric states also had higher percentages - WI, PA and MN all were around 25% refillables, and they outsold the "One Way/Throw-Away" bottles in all 3 states, as well.

    [​IMG]
     
    #20 jesskidden, Sep 18, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
  21. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,812) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    Did you not sell US brewed beers in returnable bottles? I guess I am showing my age (or is is a Pennsylvania thing?) but I have purchased many, many cases of US brewed beer in returnable bottles. I still use those bottles in my homebrewing; I suspect I have reused some bottles a few hundred times (I recently brewed batch #420).

    Cheers!
     
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  22. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,812) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    JK, I wonder the same thing - I posed a question to @grilledsquid in post #18 above related to this.

    Have you read any articles or whitepapers on the topic of the economics/impacts of returnable bottles?

    Cheers!
     
  23. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,387) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Everything I've read as they disappeared in the 1990s-on noted the high energy/fuel/labor/waste water costs of running the older washers most brewers still used. I think The Lion - one of the last PA brewers to offer them - had constant breakdowns of their unit and parts were no longer available. (There used to be a YouTube video of their last day in W-B).

    Plus, as the percentages of refillables went down, the "system" of returns broke down so that brewers weren't getting their bottles back quickly enough or at all, making it economically foolish to buy the more expensive bottles and cases that were designed to make multiple trips. In many non-mandatory deposit states, retailers became more reluctant to go through the bother (labor, storage of unclean bottles, cash refunds, etc) of accepting returns and probably they became a pain for distributors, too.
     
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  24. rronin

    rronin Initiate (179) Jul 4, 2005 Washington

    When I was a kid it was my job to take empty pop bottles to the corner store to get the deposit back. We had a metal six pack tote to carry the bottles. Everybody did it. It was a way for kids to get a little money. Kids would scour neighborhood alleys for "empties". Getting pop in worn, re-used bottles was the norm. The system worked and it can be made to work again.
     
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  25. MNAle

    MNAle Meyvn (1,074) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota

    Did you ever watch that old British sit-com "Keeping Up Appearances"? :grin:
     
  26. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (5,782) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
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    When I was in Belize earlier this year, almost all of the beer was various Belikin brands in refillable bottles. Some of the bottles were quite worn, but who cares? Bartenders served every bottle with the neck wrapped in a small paper napkin to wipe off any rust from the bottle lip, but I never saw that it was actually necessary.
    [​IMG]
     
    #26 jmdrpi, Sep 18, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
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  27. rgordon

    rgordon Champion (883) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Yes. You got it right there!
     
  28. rgordon

    rgordon Champion (883) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    We used to actually think "longnecks" tasted better!
     
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  29. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,812) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    I had an old buddy (Bob) and he would prefer to go to bars that served beer in longnecks. I never really got it since my preference was drinking beer on draft. I figured I could always drink bottled beer at home (and I would always pour it is a glass anyway).

    Cheers!
     
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  30. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (5,782) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
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    Sounds like the technology has improved from what Straub uses/used:
    [​IMG]
     
  31. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,094) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
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    I wouldn't be surprised if those customers wanted it to be "organic" as well.
     
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  32. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (5,782) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
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    It seems like it just takes a good deposit system to make things work. From this 2013 article from the Toronto Star:
    Perhaps some Canadian BA's can chime in?
     
  33. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,396) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    It was very impressive at SN. There were 30+ sensors. The guide had us look at rejected bottles, and said try and find the defects. It wasn't easy to spot them.
     
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  34. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (5,782) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    That article claims this, but no real backup:
    The Beer Store's current website has some more stats:

    "Highlights of our performance in 2017:
    • Over 1.87 billion beverage alcohol containers collected from Ontario consumers (over 1.5 billion beer containers and over 370 million ODRP containers)
    • Recovery rate of 86.7% for beer containers
    • 96.1% of all refillable beer bottles sold in Ontario were returned – these bottles are reused an average of 15 times before being recycled into new glass bottles
    • 80.2% of wine, spirit, cooler and non-Beer Store listed beer containers (ODRP containers) were recovered.
    • The Beer Store continues to recover more paper and plastic packaging than the industry generated – which is then sent for recycling
    • Over 204,000 tonnes of GHG emissions avoided as a result of these programs – equivalent to taking 43,756 cars off Ontario’s roads and highways"
     
  35. tacosandbeer

    tacosandbeer Disciple (303) Sep 24, 2010 Nebraska
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    Before the introduction of one-way, disposable containers all fountain soft drinks and draught beer were sold in refillable glass bottles. The disposable steel can made its debut in 1938 and in less than 10 years cans comprised 11 percent of beer market share. Non-refillable glass bottles made up 3 percent and refillable bottles had dropped to 86 percent. By 1984 only 8 percent of beer volume was packaged in refillable bottles. Refillable market share is now less than 4 percent of packaged beer volume. - From the Container Recycling Institute's site.
     
  36. readyski

    readyski Aspirant (232) Jun 4, 2005 California
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    On a deserted island this might make sense but in 21st century Oregon, millions of people and almost as many different bottle sizes/shapes it's doomed to fail.
     
  37. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,387) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    These guys' info is suspect:

    :rolling_eyes: This makes no sense. Bottled soft drinks and bottled beer were sold in refillable bottles but fountain soda and draught beer, by definition, were served in glasses, mugs or other such reusable containers. Well, some fountain soda came in paper cups, etc. These paper cones in metal holders were particularly cool (for a kid):
    [​IMG]

    Beer in disposable steel beer cans hit the shelves in January 24, 1935. That’s the day cans of Krueger’s Finest Beer and Krueger’s Cream Ale first went on sale in Richmond, VA.

    The Beer Institute's Brewers Almanac has said "0%" since 2007.
     
    #37 jesskidden, Sep 18, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
  38. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (5,782) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
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    Their most recent number of 3.3% was from 1998. Not exactly "now", that's 20 years ago.

    Do they round all of their stats to the nearest whole number?

    <1% is not exactly the same as 0%. Zero implies it doesn't exist at all, which doesn't appear to be the case.

    This article about Yuengling phasing out refillable bottles in 2010 cited a then-current stat of "0.3%" from the Beer Institute.
     
  39. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (5,782) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania
    Premium

    It appears they must be using Bayern Brewery in Montana. It appears that they are washing and refilling regular 12 oz bottles from any brewery?

    https://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/montana-glass-bottle-recycling-craft-brewers-20150827
    https://www.bayernbrewery.com/sustainability/
    [​IMG]
     
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  40. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,387) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey


    BREWERS ALMANAC - Refillable Bottles:

    2003 - 2%
    2004 - 1%
    200 5 - 0.6%
    2006 - 0.3%
    2007 - 0%
    [​IMG]

    But, really, once you get to under 1-2% does it really matter?

    And here's a graph (a combination of two different versions from print & Excel editions of The Brewers Almanac from the late 1960s - 20012 - w/color added):
    [​IMG]
     
    #40 jesskidden, Sep 18, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018
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