Reuse helps the environment. Glass is horribly inefficient to recycle: recycling glass saves only 30% of the energy that takes to make a bottle from new, raw ingredients. Imagine leaving a standard 60 Watt bulb on for a week, all day and all night: that is how much energy that is saved by a single reuse of one of our 750ml bottles instead of recycling it. Nearly as much energy as it takes to create a new six pack of 12oz bottles.
Reuse helps the local economy. Instead of shipping recycled glass elsewhere to be reformed into new bottles, our bottles will be washed here. Instead of sending our dollars elsewhere to constantly buy new bottles, we will pay our friends and neighbors to wash them.
Reuse involves people in the process of making responsible choices. It demands that they physically set the bottle aside, return it to the store. People will get satisfaction from the tangible act, rather than simply putting their money into a product with environmental claims. The bottle becomes a piece of equipment, a utensil, rather than a piece of (recyclable) garbage.
Other beverage companies are already doing this. Noris, Strauss, and Lady-Lane Dairies and Dragonfly Chai use returnable, reusable containers. Glass milk is on the shelves of Co-ops, and natural food stores like New Seasons in glass milk jugs and carry a $1.50 deposit. The Dragonfly Chai Company delivers its chai mix in reusable glass gallon jugs to coffee shops and restaurants.
The OLCC loves the idea and has approved our plan. I met with Lynn Johnson of the OLCC’s Wholesale and Manufacturing Specialist (503-872-5188) and submitted an application as per the Oregon Bottle Bill ORS 459A.725. She concluded that we did not need certification as we were not going through OBRC. Deposits must be at least five cents per container, but larger deposits are allowed. There are plans for OBRC to include reusable bottles someday, but it is years from realization yet.
How is it going to work? When we deliver cases of beer to retailer, there will be a charge for the beer and a separate charge for the bottle deposit. When the customer buys the bottle, the the Out The Door price includes a dollar deposit, which the customer can collect upon returning the bottle in usable (but not washed - we do that!) condition. Every delivery (once a week), we will collect the empties, and credit the retailer a dollar per bottle collected on the invoice.
We provide sturdy and stackable wooden crates to safely house returned empties.
BTW, if you would rather keep the container for your own reuse, please do so! The bottles cost us a bit over a dollar new, and the difference is made up in the additional labor cost of thoroughly washing and inspecting used bottles, so our bottom line is not affected. The purpose of all of this is to break the 'use once and destroy' mentality that wastes so many resources.
We know that it is a bit of a PITA, and welcome any suggestions!