How to Be an Eco-Friendly Consumer
Vermont Plastic Can Carrier Reuse & Recycle Initiative raises awareness and takes action
By Sheila D. Barker
With the state of the environment being what it is today, it seems as important as ever that we as consumers do what we can to help by embracing brands that are dedicated to decreasing their impact on the environment. Burlington-area craft beer drinkers can do this thanks to a new collaborative effort between Reusable Solutions, Eco-Friendly Beer, and Casella Waste Systems. They have come together to create the Vermont Plastic Can Carrier Reuse & Recycle Initiative (VPCCRRI).
100% Recyclable…Sort of
Millions of plastic can carriers end up in the hands of Vermont’s craft beer drinkers each year. Single-use plastic can wreak havoc on wildlife, taking up to 1,000 years to degrade naturally. But carriers that make it into recycling bins—put there by people thinking they are making a difference—are often not able to be recycled.
It Begins with Awareness
The goal of this pilot program is to raise awareness of the issue and reduce single-use plastic packaging. The program allows consumers to return carriers to participating retail stores and taprooms. Small brewers can clean and reuse the carriers and big brewers who can’t use the carriers donate to the small brewers. Casella Waste Systems, the fiscal sponsor of the program, is providing custom collection bins. Casella will also help participating brewers and retailers recycle unusable carriers with a unique separate-stream collection, directing the carriers to a plastics processor for recycling.
The VPCCRRI take-back program is not only environmentally conscious but also economically feasible for participating breweries. Reusing the plastic carriers is less expensive than continually purchasing new ones.
Businesses currently enrolled in the program are Foam Brewers, Switchback Brewing, and Zero Gravity in Burlington; Halyard Brewing and Weird Window Brewing in South Burlington; Four Quarters Brewing and The Beverage Warehouse in Winooski; Goodwater Brewery in Williston; Black Flannel Brewing & Distilling in Essex; Stone Corral Brewery in Richmond; Green Empire Brewing in Colchester; Stowe Cider in Stowe; and Shacksbury Cider in Vergennes. Additional breweries are in line to sign up.
Plans are to scale the existing pilot program in early 2022 and take it beyond the Metro Burlington area. By looping in beer and cider producers, consumers, and environmental groups, the program can be duplicated to other areas across the US.
The three organizations behind the Vermont Plastic Can Carrier Reuse & Recycle Initiative have been working to bring about awareness and change. Casella Waste Systems is dedicated to improving sustainability and helping to bring about fundamental change. Reusable Solutions is an outreach organization whose goal is to connect reusable and renewable businesses with consumers through a community-based, grassroots process. Eco-Friendly Beer Drinker gives insight into how the brewing industry and its consumers can be environmentally mindful of the planet.
Whether craft beer drinker, brewery, or retail outlet, it is up to all of us to do what we can to make sure there is a planet left to drink and make craft beer on.
Casella Waste Management
25 Greens Hill Lane
Contact: Ben Kogan
Eco-Friendly Beer Drinker
Contact: Rob Vandenabeele