• Any brewery packaging beer in rigid plastic can carriers or plastic film rings should have a formal take-back program acknowledging that they are NOT curbside recyclable and encouraging consumers to return them to a brewery for re-use or proper recycling.
  • A successful program will actively promote its efforts through social media posts and with a visible sign or collection bin in the taproom. Above and beyond would be a blog post or website page that explains the brewery’s take-back policy and its commitment to doing right by the environment.
  • Breweries planning to re-use carriers should provide specific details about their take-back policy, i.e. “we accept carriers in good condition, only 4-packs, of certain color(s), free of stickers, etc. 
  • Some breweries have even offered consumer incentives similar to a bottle deposit scheme for their carrier take-back programs, such as refunding them 5 cents per carrier.
  • Others have partnered with nearby liquor stores or restaurants who save can carriers and return them to the brewery for re-use. 
  • Collected carriers intended for re-use should be properly cleaned and sanitized in a standard commercial dishwasher or with an antibacterial detergent solution in a utility sink.
  • Breweries that don’t re-use should still offer a take-back program, and initiate a donation program that shares their collected carriers with neighboring breweries that do re-use.
  • Excess or damaged can carriers and rings should be sent for proper recycling through one of these channels:
    1. If in Metro Boston, collaborate with one of the 4 breweries participating in the pilot collection program with GreenLabs Recycling.
    2. Make an arrangement with its packaging provider to accept specified quantities of carriers to take back to its warehouse and eventually be delivered to a recycling processor.
    3. Collect a gaylord box full (approximately 12,000) and deliver it to a recycling processor such as Stockbridge Plastics through prior arrangement.
    4. Flimsy film six-pack rings can be mailed back to the manufacturer through the free RingRecycleMe program.
    5. Contact Rob at MassBrewBros@gmail.com or EcoFriendlyBeerDrinker@gmail.com for help with logistics in arranging a pickup or drop off, finding a recycling processor, establishing a donation program with nearby breweries, or otherwise collaborating with other breweries on logistical solutions.
  • Breweries should record/estimate the amount of carriers they reuse (and the corresponding savings in packaging expense) and recycle annually for data collection and promotional purposes.

Related: Can Carrier Recycling Fact Sheet

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