Redhook Brewery achieves sustainable recycling ‘trifecta'
Posted by Rick Lingle, Technical Editor -- Packaging Digest, 12/5/2012 2:40:44 PM
Redhook Brewery is well-known for its sustainability practices, partnering with EcoMovement Consulting & Hauling, of Dover, for example, on a top-to-bottom composting program, picking up Redhook's food scraps and taking it to compost farms, where the refuse is mixed with carbon sources and made into nutrient rich soil.
But it took a visit from representatives of a recycling company, Poly Recovery, to prompt the brewery to take a second look at the tons of plastic Redhook was throwing out, resulting in Redhook's sustainability program ascending to an even higher level.
Redhook now collects what was formerly plastic refuse - green strapping made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), low-density polyethylene keg caps, and grain bags - and sends it to Poly Recovery. The recycling firm transforms the material into a fine resin and sends it 12 miles down the road to Hampton's Foss Manufacturing, which turns the product into clothing, footwear and carpeting, among other finished products. The three companies call their collaboration "The Recycling Trifecta."
"What we're doing really hasn't been done before," Poly Recovery CEO John Pelech says of the three companies' association.
The Recycling Trifecta was born when Pelech and Poly Recovery general manager Mike Mooney first drove into the Redhook parking lot. "Boy, you've got a lot of cans" - meaning dumpsters - they told Joe Thorner, Redhook's director of operations.
"That caught my attention, that we had a lot of trash going out in cans," Thorner says. Redhook had been working with a recycler that did not fully recycle, "and everything was going into the trash and then basically into a landfill."
"We went into their dumpsters, pulled out their green PET strapping, their LDPE keg caps, their grain bags," Mooney says, "and we were able to process it, unlike other recyclers who might bale it up and put it on a slow boat to China."
Pelech calls the process "sustainable recycling."
"Anybody can throw waste into a recycling bin but can still not have any idea where it goes," he says. "Businesses are recycling at a huge cost. We add traceability to it. We quantify and make recycling sustainable. We make a product out of this waste. We challenge others to be as green as us."
And Redhook meets that challenge. "I think Redhook is a true innovator and leader in their craft," Pelech says. "There's not another brewery out there that's doing what they're doing. They actually care where their waste goes, saying, ‘Let's keep it here. Let's have traceability to our waste. We created it; let's figure out where it goes because that makes a big difference.'"
"What I see is how many pounds of material that aren't going into a landfill," Thorner says. "What that translates to me is I'm not paying for the cans anymore, all are gone but one. We don't have compactor anymore. That was a rental fee we no longer pay. We continue to see about 10,000 pounds of month of material that's not going into a landfill. That's huge."
"We're not only helping Redhook be green, which is an admirable goal in and of itself, but for businesses, economically, it makes sense," Mooney says. "We are creating value for material that they were otherwise throwing away."
Redhook saves $2,910 per month on dumpster rental fees, and Poly Recovery now pays Redhook for every pound of plastic that used to end up in a landfill. In the first six months of working with Poly Recovery, Redhook has recycled 63,143 pounds of material. It is processed and turned into local goods all within 100 miles of Redhook.
Redhook does more than compost its leftover food and recycle its plastic. It is a member of the Green Alliance, a union of local sustainable businesses promoting environmentally sound business practices, and a green co-op offering discounted green products and services to its members. Redhook's other green practices include: reusing water heated during the beer's fermentation in brewing processes; giving leftover yeast and spent grains to local farms, which is then used as feed; and diverting leftover coffee grounds from one of its Kona brand varieties to help fertilize a community garden located on the premises.
The brewery has also switched over all lighting on the premises to high-efficiency CFLs, and emphasizes the use of even the most basic food scraps for stock and other products in its near totally scratch kitchen.
"It's not what a company pays to become green," Pelech says, "it's the employees who work at the company every day. It's companies like Redhook; they pioneer their recycling efforts. They've gone from throwing out 100 percent of their waste to almost zero percent going into a landfill. That's unbelievable."
Source: Poly Recycling, LLC
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