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Six-pack reycling hack

50% of PakTech can carriers placed in recycling bins went landfills.

San Diego craft beer goes green
San Diego craft beer goes green

If you’ve ever bought a four- or six-pack of local craft beer cans, you’ve most likely encountered the solid plastic, colored carriers that hold together the majority of local canned brews. Those carriers are made by PakTech, a Eugene, OR, company; and, although they are made from 100% PCR (post-consumer recycled material) and are 100% recyclable, actually getting the tops recycled has proven to be a challenge. Although PakTech will accept used carriers for recycling, they only accept them by the whole trailer load — something not entirely feasible for small- to medium-sized breweries.

Tom Kiely, General Manager of Thorn Brewing and Slow Beer Chair at Slow Food Urban San Diego, was curious about how the carriers were recycled when simply tossed in a blue recycling bin. Kiely was put in touch with Steve Weihe, San Diego County’s Recycling Specialist. Says Kiely, “I gave Steve a handful of PakTechs, and he ran an experiment with the MRF at EDCO to see how well PakTechs sort when they’re thrown into mixed recycling bins, like blue trash barrels or bigger blue dumpsters. Only about 50% of them were sorted correctly (their size, shape and color impacts their ability to be accurately sorted).”

Weihe connected Thorn with Ed Fitch and Cactus Recycling, which purchases recyclable materials from organiations and sells them back to creators. Fitch and Weihe toured Thorn’s brewery and found material that could be recycled in addition to the plastic tops, including shrink wrap and grain bags. For his part, Kiely shared the pair’s findings with the Slow Beer Committee, and reached out to local breweries to drum up interest in starting what would ultimately become SD Brewcycling Collaborative. The response was overwhelming: according to Kiely, “about 15 breweries totaling 250,000 bbl/yr worth of production” expressed interest. Kiely continues, “In addition to the breweries, I was introduced to Fio & Romi Borkert of The Bountiful Bag, who have been working on brewery waste upcycling for a few years and have a relationship with Misadventure Vodka. Then Morgan Tenwick, Director of Quality at Juneshine, connected me with their Sustainability Lead (and now head-brewer) Luke Suttmiller, and he offered-up Juneshine as the host site where we could have each brewery send their grain bags, shrink wrap, and corrugated cardboard.”

Phase 1 of the collaborative is underway, consisting of: one large local brewery, Port Brewing; a small local brewery, Thorn; a very small brewery, Nickel Brewing; and Juneshine. Each brewery isolates their grain bags, shrink wrap, and corrugated cardboard, then drives them to Juneshine where all of the recyclables are combined, baled, and shipped for reuse. More breweries will be added in Phase 2, set to begin in January. Breweries interested in being part of the project can email [email protected], and individuals looking to recycle their PakTechs can send email to [email protected]

Place

Thorn Brewing Co.

1745 National Avenue, San Diego

On the beer front, Thorn is gearing up to make its popular Michelada more accessible to people throughout the county. Combining Thorn’s Barrio Lager with its in-house mix consisting of tomato juice, lime juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ponzu sauce, and clam juice, Michelada is being kegged to ship out to local bars and restaurants. This spring, cans of Thorn Michelada will start appearing in regional grocery stores — and now you know who to ask about responsibly disposing of their PakTech carriers.

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San Diego craft beer goes green
San Diego craft beer goes green

If you’ve ever bought a four- or six-pack of local craft beer cans, you’ve most likely encountered the solid plastic, colored carriers that hold together the majority of local canned brews. Those carriers are made by PakTech, a Eugene, OR, company; and, although they are made from 100% PCR (post-consumer recycled material) and are 100% recyclable, actually getting the tops recycled has proven to be a challenge. Although PakTech will accept used carriers for recycling, they only accept them by the whole trailer load — something not entirely feasible for small- to medium-sized breweries.

Tom Kiely, General Manager of Thorn Brewing and Slow Beer Chair at Slow Food Urban San Diego, was curious about how the carriers were recycled when simply tossed in a blue recycling bin. Kiely was put in touch with Steve Weihe, San Diego County’s Recycling Specialist. Says Kiely, “I gave Steve a handful of PakTechs, and he ran an experiment with the MRF at EDCO to see how well PakTechs sort when they’re thrown into mixed recycling bins, like blue trash barrels or bigger blue dumpsters. Only about 50% of them were sorted correctly (their size, shape and color impacts their ability to be accurately sorted).”

Weihe connected Thorn with Ed Fitch and Cactus Recycling, which purchases recyclable materials from organiations and sells them back to creators. Fitch and Weihe toured Thorn’s brewery and found material that could be recycled in addition to the plastic tops, including shrink wrap and grain bags. For his part, Kiely shared the pair’s findings with the Slow Beer Committee, and reached out to local breweries to drum up interest in starting what would ultimately become SD Brewcycling Collaborative. The response was overwhelming: according to Kiely, “about 15 breweries totaling 250,000 bbl/yr worth of production” expressed interest. Kiely continues, “In addition to the breweries, I was introduced to Fio & Romi Borkert of The Bountiful Bag, who have been working on brewery waste upcycling for a few years and have a relationship with Misadventure Vodka. Then Morgan Tenwick, Director of Quality at Juneshine, connected me with their Sustainability Lead (and now head-brewer) Luke Suttmiller, and he offered-up Juneshine as the host site where we could have each brewery send their grain bags, shrink wrap, and corrugated cardboard.”

Phase 1 of the collaborative is underway, consisting of: one large local brewery, Port Brewing; a small local brewery, Thorn; a very small brewery, Nickel Brewing; and Juneshine. Each brewery isolates their grain bags, shrink wrap, and corrugated cardboard, then drives them to Juneshine where all of the recyclables are combined, baled, and shipped for reuse. More breweries will be added in Phase 2, set to begin in January. Breweries interested in being part of the project can email [email protected], and individuals looking to recycle their PakTechs can send email to [email protected]

Place

Thorn Brewing Co.

1745 National Avenue, San Diego

On the beer front, Thorn is gearing up to make its popular Michelada more accessible to people throughout the county. Combining Thorn’s Barrio Lager with its in-house mix consisting of tomato juice, lime juice, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ponzu sauce, and clam juice, Michelada is being kegged to ship out to local bars and restaurants. This spring, cans of Thorn Michelada will start appearing in regional grocery stores — and now you know who to ask about responsibly disposing of their PakTech carriers.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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