As the 200-year-old Oktoberfest kicks off in Munich, across the Atlantic, Americans have caught the fall beer-drinking bug, too. Oktoberfest activities have begun to pop up at breweries and beer halls across the country, but that’s not the only thing that Stateside beer drinkers have borrowed from their German counterparts: Oregon has become the first state to issue a statewide reusable beer bottle program. This means, like Germany, the Beaver State will now distribute and collect bottles for reuse (in Oregon’s case, up to 25 times).
The Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, an organization that processes nearly all of the state’s recyclable containers, will oversee the manufacturing, distribution, and cleaning of the bottles. Currently the program is in its pilot phase, and it’s being tested with a handful of local breweries. Once implemented statewide, OBRC estimates that it’ll lead to a 92% savings in carbon footprint over recycling. That’s because recycled glass bottles still have to be crushed, melted, and molded into new bottles, which takes much more energy than simply putting them through a washer and redistributing them.
“It’s a plus economically, and environmentally,” Jules Bailey, chief stewardship officer and head of communications at the OBRC, told Fast Company.
Creating the new bottle was no easy task. The OBRC teamed up with glass manufacturer Owens-Illinois to create a design that would last through at least 25 washes while still maintaining the authentic look and feel of your favorite beer bottle. The end product is a 12 oz. brown glass bottle that has a slight indentation to make it easier to remove and replace labels for the different brewers.
Seven Oregon brewers are currently using the environmentally conscious bottle program, and OBRC is aiming to expand across the state—and possibly even the country.