The Move toward Greener Beer Packaging

When you think of beer packaging, chances are that you immediately think of the cardboard six-pack holder or the cardboard case. However, packaging goes far beyond what keeps your beer bottles or cans together. The largest consideration in beer packaging is actually those very bottles and cans! There is a growing movement toward greening up this aspect of the industry.

Bottles and Cans Are Green

You might be wondering why there’s any need for further “greening.” After all, both bottles and cans are recyclable. Bottles can even be reused several times before they’re recycled, helping to save energy and costs. Aluminum cans can be recycled endlessly without increasing their cost significantly. How can things get any better for the environment?

Transportation Costs

Whether beer comes in bottles or cans, whether it’s packaged with cardboard or plastic, there are significant transportation considerations. Transporting beer even a relatively short distance (throughout a state, for instance), emits quite a bit of pollution into the atmosphere. In addition, those trucks require fuel and oil, both of which are increasing in cost (and in their impact on the environment globally). Finding a means to reduce transportation costs while still ensuring that customers have access to a brewery’s offerings is important, but how might that be done?

Refills!

The answer to the transportation problem might just be refills. More specifically, some brewpubs are now offering “growlers” to their customers. Growlers come in quite a few shapes and sizes. The standard size for one is a half-gallon, but there are also quart and liter versions offered. 

How does this work though? What’s happening here is that a brewpub will sell growlers to their customers. When the beer in the container is empty, the customer simply brings it back in for a refill. That cuts down on transportation costs (and emissions) by a significant amount, while still ensuring that customers have a reason to come to the pub.

Another benefit here is that it gives customers a real reason to enter the brewpub. Rather than stopping at a local store to pick up a 6-pack and then heading home, the customers actually get to hit the pub and see what other offerings might be available. It’s also a great excuse to hang out and talk shop with the local brewer!

While not all brewpubs are going this route, quite a few are trying it on for size. Chances are good that there’s one in your area.

Posted on April 29, 2011 and filed under Green, Design and Packaging.