In spring of 2016 I met Bayern Brewery brewmaster Thorsten Geuer at the annual Craft Brewers Convention in Philadelphia. Thorsten made a ‘sustainability’ presentation about how local Missoula residents brought used craft beer bottles to Bayern’s brewery for washing and refilling… to the tune of over 700,000 bottles a year!! This is impressive as the state of Montana has no state bottle bill refund or recycling program.
He explained several years earlier Bayern purchased a German made industrial bottle washer out of frustration with craft bottles being throw away or maybe recycled. With the bottle washer in place Bayern launched their bottle reuse program called Eco League. They developed a sturdy waxed cardboard 24 pack case called an “Eco Pack” for customers to store empty 12oz craft beer bottles for return to the brewery. (watch this video of owner Jürgen Knoller explaining their reuse program) https://vimeo.com/114748781
That summer I traveled to Bayern Brewery and spent a day on the production floor as the used (and new) bottles were loaded into the bottle washer then filled, capped, labeled and packaged for shipment. During my time their Thorsten explained the bottle washer, filling operations and shared several of their excellent German beers!! To our knowledge, this is the only bottle washing and refilling operation in the United States (outside of the dairy industry). http://www.bayernbrewery.com/
As authentic supporters and participants of reuse, Bayern offered to purchase empty used craft beer bottles from Conscious Container. This partnership allows Conscious Container to launch our Collection Pilots, with the goal to establish and expand a reuse collection infrastructure… followed by a full craft beer bottle washing operation!
Thanks again to the Bayern team for their continued support, guidance and commitment to glass bottle reuse… our highest form of recycling!!!