Reusing Bottles?

January 20, 2010

As a home brewer, I have choices when it comes to bottling. I can buy empty bottles from my local homebrew store, fill them, drink them, and have empty bottles to reuse. Actually, my husband recently bought a box of Costco beer because it was just a few dollars more than buying empty bottles, plus he got some beer out of the deal. Now all my family members are saving up bottles for us to use, and it is great.

I had this business idea that if I got my cidery/winery up and running, I would offer my customers a coupon if they brought my bottles back. The coupon would be good towards their next purchase in my store, and I don’t have to pay as much to get bottles.

Problem is, it may not be technically legal. There are worries that the bottles would be chipped and I wouldn’t know it, and therefore put glass into the beverage and hurt the drinker. In this day of paranoia, there is also the worry that some customer would poison the bottle with a chemical that my washing techniques would not be able to get rid of. These are all things that would make it so that I couldn’t offer coupons to reuse bottles.

Or is it? There is a new company in California called Wine Bottle Recycling who are collecting bottles, cleaning them up, and reselling them. Doing their research, they found that seven out of every ten bottles ended up in landfills, and the energy it took to melt the glass and reform it was the same as making a new bottle, just not using any sand, so there was really very little benefit to recycling bottles. However, with their system of making bottles reusable, energy is saved. This program could open the doors for me to act on my coupon idea.

For more information on Wine Bottle Recycling, go to: http://www.bohemian.com/bohemian/01.06.10/eats-1001.html

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