Oregon initiates first modern statewide refillable glass bottle system in the US

October 22, 2018 by  
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At the beginning of the century, refillable bottles were the only option when you purchased a beer or soda from the local merchant. With the invention of the steel can in 1938, however, that practice began to change. Within 10 years, the 100 percent refillable glass usage for beer had dropped to 84 percent. When non-refillable glass started taking over mainstream production, that number dropped to 8 percent by 1986 and, according to the Container Recycling Institute , refillable beer bottles now account for less than 4 percent of the total containers used. Today, Oregon is getting back to the basics by revitalizing the use of refillable beer bottles. The World Counts reported, “The world’s beer and soda consumption uses about 200 billion aluminium cans every year. This is 6,700 cans every second — enough to go around the planet every 17 hours.” While recycling is an important piece of the puzzle, a large percentage of cans and bottles are tossed into the landfill. Those that do make it to the recycling plant require massive amounts of water and energy to recycle into clean, usable material. With all of this in mind, Oregon recently initiated a statewide recycling program that cuts out the need to break down materials and turn them into something new. Instead, they’ve gone old school by bringing back refillable bottles. Related: Eco-minded Melbourne brewery breaks the mold for sustainable beer production The process works the same as any other bottle deposit system. The consumer pays a deposit upfront when buying a beverage. Upon returning the empty container, they receive the deposit back. The bottle return machines identify the refillable bottles by a unique barcode and automatically separate them from the recyclable glass options. The bottles themselves are slightly different in other ways, too. Noticeably thicker and marked with a “refillable” stamp, the bottles can be reused up to 40 times, which sharply dials back the carbon footprint for the industry. Oregon has been poised to reintroduce refillable bottles into the market because of an existing statewide program that collects and recycles bottles and cans. With that efficient infrastructure in place, adding refillable bottles to the mix is a natural step in the progression of responsible resource management within the state. It’s no surprise that Oregon is an early adopter of the program, as it has a long history of innovation in the beverage recycling industry. In fact, Oregon was the first state to pass a bottle refund law in 1971. In order for the program to be cost-effective, there are some stipulations in place. For example, bottles leaving the state and not being returned for refill drives up costs. To protect against this, bottlers who commit to using the refillable bottles are only allowed to export 20 percent of those bottles out of state. Although Oregon hopes to be a leader in the refillable bottle movement, the program is still going through some growing pains. Bottles are currently being shipped to Montana for cleaning until Oregon can complete its own facility to do the work. While the state’s Department of Environmental Quality hasn’t put an exact measurement on the impact of these efforts, most agree that even with temporary transport to another state, refillable bottles cut the carbon footprint at every post-production phase of the life cycle. The real measure of the program’s success will come with the deposit return rates. If people don’t return the bottles, the system won’t work. This is a struggle that Double Mountain Brewery founder Matt Swihart knows all too well as the original provider of refillable bottles within the Oregon brewing industry. He’s fought an uphill battle in his efforts to successfully introduce refillable bottles to his Hood River bottling plant. With an initial return rate of only 15-20 percent, he’s hoping an organized state system will help facilitate his goals. “Anything we get back and clean saves us money down the road, and of course is a more responsible environmental package,” Swihart told OPB . “Frankly, it’s just the right thing to do.” Currently, seven breweries in Oregon have stepped up to the program. Widmer Brothers Brewing is one such optimistic leader of change. It has always been transparent in its efforts to maintain sustainability wherever possible in the beer-making process, with actions like donating spent grains to local farms and providing reusable to-go containers for employees to cut back on waste. For a company that looks to repurpose and recycle everything down to the crayons and corks, moving to refillable bottles is a natural progression. The company stated, “In 2016, we completed our first Life Cycle Analysis on a bottle of beer produced at our brewery to understand the biggest opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint, learning that one bottle generates 392 grams of carbon dioxide emissions. We are partnering with suppliers to improve!” And now, the brewery is doing just that. Buoy Beer, Double Mountain, GoodLife, Gigantic, Wild Ride and Rock Bottom breweries have also signed on with hopes of many others joining as the program gains credibility. Although breweries are in the spotlight right now, there is hope that the soda industry will also jump on the refillable bottle bandwagon. Who knows — maybe it’s just a few short years before we make the full circle back to refillable milk bottles. Via  OPB ,  The World Counts and  Container Recycling Institute Images via Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative and Thomas Picauly

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Oregon initiates first modern statewide refillable glass bottle system in the US

Earth911 Quiz #31: Surprising Carbon Facts

October 4, 2018 by  
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This week’s quiz draws on the many amazing facts collected … The post Earth911 Quiz #31: Surprising Carbon Facts appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #31: Surprising Carbon Facts

Earth911 Quiz #23: Drawdown Your Carbon Footprint

August 9, 2018 by  
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Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed To Reverse Global … The post Earth911 Quiz #23: Drawdown Your Carbon Footprint appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #23: Drawdown Your Carbon Footprint

Talking Direct Air Capture of Atmospheric CO2 with Peter Fiekowsky

August 9, 2018 by  
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Peter Fiekowsky joined Earth911’s Sustainability In Your Ear podcast recently … The post Talking Direct Air Capture of Atmospheric CO2 with Peter Fiekowsky appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Talking Direct Air Capture of Atmospheric CO2 with Peter Fiekowsky

On target: 6 business benefits of setting science-based targets

July 31, 2018 by  
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Cut your carbon emissions or run the risks.

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On target: 6 business benefits of setting science-based targets

Equitable electrification: renters need access to charging stations, too

July 31, 2018 by  
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Renters don’t have the incentive to make energy-related investments. Here’s how policymakers can push that.

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Equitable electrification: renters need access to charging stations, too

Earth911 Quiz #20: Carbon, for Better or Worse

July 19, 2018 by  
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Carbon is everything to life on Earth, but too much … The post Earth911 Quiz #20: Carbon, for Better or Worse appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Quiz #20: Carbon, for Better or Worse

6 easy tips to green your Fourth of July

July 4, 2018 by  
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Although the Fourth of July is a wonderful time to celebrate our freedom with friends and family, with all the cups, utensils and fireworks we end up using, it’s also one of our most wasteful holidays! So this year, why not take advantage of our six ideas that will help you green-up your festivities without sacrificing an ounce of fun. In fact, it might surprise you to find that following our tips could actually increase the fun quotient while sparing the planet at the same time. 1. Go meatless for the day Nothing says Independence Day like a backyard barbecue, but the global meat industry has put a terrible strain on the planet. This year, ditch the pork chops and steaks and consider some delicious vegetarian grilling recipes instead. Although forgoing the meat might seem akin to sacrilege, there are so many more creative dishes available that are good for your health and the planet. 2. Use real plates When you have 15 guests coming around, it’s so easy to break out the paper plates to avoid a sink full of dishes. But imagine the waste if every American went this route! If washing your own dishes in a water-saving dishwasher doesn’t sound appealing, it is now possible to purchase biodegradable packaging that won’t clog up the landfill. 3. Use public transportation If you live out in the middle of Iowa, taking a bus or train to your friend’s house might not be possible for you. But most city dwellers certainly do have this option. Using public transportation , or even cycling instead of driving a car, has more than one benefit: not only will you reduce your carbon footprint for the day, but you won’t have to drive home after drinking! Which brings us to our next point… 4. Buy kegs instead of cans and bottles Don’t take this the wrong way — Inhabitat isn’t endorsing national drunkenness, but we are realistic. People have the day off, they’re hanging out with their favorite people… beer will be had. Instead of buying a stack of cans and bottles that use up a lot of unnecessary materials, consider purchasing a keg. This is cheaper, usually, and you’ll have zero waste — especially if you use your own mugs or compostable cups . 5. Cool down with a batch of delicious organic popsicles If drinking beer isn’t your thing, or you’re celebrating the holiday with a handful of screaming young children, consider following our recipes for 30 kinds of delicious organic popsicles . They’re so easy to make and contain none of the junk that store-bought popsicles do. Plus, you won’t produce any waste as a byproduct of enjoying one of our favorite summer treats. 6. Enjoy a sunset with wind- and solar-powered lights Sunset is probably our favorite part of the Fourth of July. Not that we’re excited for the day to end, but the temperature simmers down at last, and the sky fills up with the vibrant colors of fireworks. Make the ambiance last and reduce your energy footprint by using  wind and solar lights . They’re easy to find at IKEA, and they’ll impress the daylights out of your friends and family! Have a happy and green Fourth of July! Images via Nigel Howe , Shutterstock ( 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 ), Inhabitat and IKEA

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6 easy tips to green your Fourth of July

Tackling transportation demand, smart growth and efficiency in Hawaii’s car culture

June 28, 2018 by  
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The transportation sector has typically made up about 30% of the carbon emissions from society, second to the utility sector. However, in 2016, transportation overtook utilities. This occurred even as cars became more efficient because we have built communities and a transportation sector that force people to travel 2% more per year every year.

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Tackling transportation demand, smart growth and efficiency in Hawaii’s car culture

Sustainable tourism: valuing experiences, efficiencies and ecosystems

June 28, 2018 by  
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How do tourism industry stakeholders — hotels, business owners, airlines — define “sustainability” from an economic standpoint? How can leaders advance efficiency and conservation without compromising — even increasing — the experience for travelers?  What are the metrics that the industry can align on to demonstrate data-driven progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions while creating new economic opportunities?

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Sustainable tourism: valuing experiences, efficiencies and ecosystems

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