Recycle. Reduce. Reuse. It’s been a mantra of sustainability for decades, but in the United States—where recycling and reduction are often backed by large-scale programs—reuse has often been left up to individuals.

Outside the U.S., however, reusable bottle programs are part of everyday life.

In countries like Mexico, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Scandinavian countries, and Ecuador, customers regularly return their empty glass bottles to stores so that the bottles can be cleaned, refilled, and reused. In many cases a single reusable bottle will exceed 35 turns of washing and refilling!

A variety of initiatives and measures have been applied in those countries to promote returning bottles. Mandatory deposits, taxes, or even bans on one-way containers or quotas as a percentage of beverage sales volume. Also, public education and well-designed systems play a major role.

The result is more sustainable beverage packaging, reduced packaging costs, a smaller CO2 footprint, and in some cases, cash incentives or discounts for customers.

What would a refillable glass bottle system look like in the U.S.?

A lot like the one we’ve created at Conscious Container.

Here’s how it works:

  • Save your empty glass bottles.
  • Drop-off the bottles in boxes at Conscious Container partner locations or, better yet, we pick them up curbside!
  • Qualified bottles are then cleaned and refilled by producers so they can be enjoyed again.

Collect – Wash – Sell – Repeat

Our proof-of-concept pilots have been completed and we are ramping up to launch our MVP collection with ABInBev this fall.

Learn more about our process here.