The beverage industry is a dynamic one! Consumer-driven, we want new products and trendy packaging. Meanwhile, producers are jostling for the best shelf space and hoping that their latest brew is the one that goes viral. These constant demands on the industry are also positively influencing consumer products. Consumers are drinking less and less from plastic bottles and there has been an insurgence of products in cans. Which, of course, is great for the environment because of aluminum’s ability to be recycled over and over again.
What happens to these products if they are not the hottest new trend and don’t sell? If these products pass their stale date; if the batch isn’t just right; if there are marketing errors on the packaging or if for some other reason, it just can’t be consumed in the human food chain? Do we pour them down the drain?
Canadian Liquids Processors (CLP) is another venture in the Emterra Group family. It is a line of our business that serves up an important and non-traditional style of recycling. Through a distillation process, CLP removes the alcohol and sugar content of waste liquids and turns these consumer products into ethanol and biodegradable windshield washer fluid – maintaining the value of something that was thought to be waste. And, CLP recovers and recycles as much of the product packaging as possible.
CLP provides service to some of the largest breweries and spirit manufacturers in Canada. Together they have started another recycling program called “Dump and Return” - where bottles rather than being recycled and returned to the producer to be reused.
“Being recyclable is great,” explains Sean O’Neill, General Manager at CLP. “But being able to reuse something and not having to go through the recycling process is even better!”
Reuse is not something we often consider a possibility for food-grade products, but it is, and it is happening. Breweries have made it well known that they are focused on their carbon footprint, they want their materials to be recovered and recycled so there is less waste and so their packaging is not found scattered in waterways, parks and ditches. They are also focused on reusing whenever possible. It’s an environmental advantage but also financial - the average beer bottle costs about 10 cents to purchase new.
CLP was able to convert a piece of equipment originally designed to fill bottles, to one that removes beer bottle caps and empties bottles. “We have spent the last year focusing on our customers and their needs,” explains Sean. “By retrofitting this equipment and working together to find a solution, we are helping our customers decrease their environmental footprint, reduce the emissions produced through the recycling process and have revived a reuse practice in a consumer food-based product packaging.”