Solid Waste & Recycling

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Rising Spirits

This fall The Beer Store (TBS) released its annual Pack-aging Stewardship Report, Responsible Stewardship 2008-2009, with statistics on reuse and recycling of alcohol beverage packaging in Ontario.


This fall The Beer Store (TBS) released its annual Pack-aging Stewardship Report, Responsible Stewardship 2008-2009, with statistics on reuse and recycling of alcohol beverage packaging in Ontario.

Since 1927 the pri-vately operated retail and distribution company has been operating a deposit-refund-based packaging management system. Today it recovers pack-aging on behalf of the 89 beer brand-owners and 346 associated brands sold through the system. The costs of the deposit-refund system are covered through a schedule of service fees pay-able by those brandowners.

The backbone of the TBS deposit-refund system is the refi llable beer bottle. Over 70 per cent of total beer sales (of about two billion units) are refillable glass bottles. (See chart.). With each bottle making an average of 12 to 15 trips over relatively short distances from retail store back to brewery, the refillable bottle provides both economic and environmental efficiencies.

Currently, 48 Canadian brewers (including 17 Ontario brewers) are signatories to the Industry Standard Bottle (ISB) Agreement which allows them to utilize the ISB as their primary beer container. In one year, more than 1.4 billion beer bottle sales were provided using just over 94 million new beer bottles, avoiding all primary resource extraction energy and pollution associated with manufacturing 1.4 billion new bottles from scratch. In one year alone, the refillable beer bottle can claim to have avoided more than 2.3 million gigajoules of energy, equivalent to more than 383,000 barrels of oil, worth $27.5 million.

Refillable and non-refillable beer container and secondary packaging recovery piggy-backs on the existing full goods distribution system — when each TBS or brewery truck delivers goods, it returns with empty containers and secondary packaging. At the largest of TBS’s 12 distribution centers, balers consolidate beer cartons for shipment directly to end markets (thereby avoiding additional transfer and processing).

Over a five-year period (2005-2009), collection rates of glass beer bottles and aluminum beer cans have increased. Recovery of refillable glass bottles is up from 97 per cent to 99 per cent; single-use glass bottles from 85 per cent to 89 per cent; and aluminum cans up from 67 per cent to 79 per cent. (See chart.).

The program’s recycling performance is also good news. All waste glass is being shipped short distances to Brampton, Ontario where it’s used primarily for the manufacture of new bottles, with the remaining glass used to make fiberglass, also locally. Aluminum cans are recycled into new aluminum sheet for cans and all carton fibre is recycled into paperboard and box products.

TBS also recovers and recycles wine, sprits, and beer sold by the LCBO under the Ontario Deposit Return Program (ODRP). In its second year ODRP is also demonstrating significant performance gains. TBS recovers these containers from consumers and

from almost 17,600 bars and restaurants and uses the same reverse distribution system as it does for beer containers.

In only two years, the collection rate for all ODRP containers went from 67 per cent to 73 per cent (Glass bottles 76 per cent and aluminum cans 79 per cent). All container categories experienced improved collection rates, with the exception of small aseptic cartons. (see bar chart.)

The TBS system provides a good example of a consumer friendly, logistically efficient and environmentally effective packaging recovery system that is only getting better with age.

Clarissa Morawski is principal of CM Consulting based in Peterborough, Ontario. Contact Clarissa at morawski@ca.inter.net

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“In one year alone, the refillable beer bottle can claim to have avoided more than 2.3 million gigajoules of energy, equivalent to more than 383,000 barrels of oil, worth $27.5 million.”

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“The Backbone Of The TBS Deposit-Refund System Is The Refillable Beer Bottle.”


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