Monday, 10 May 2010

Empty bottles

Ruminations on the place that beer holds in the nation’s heart are all very well, but has anyone ever wondered why there is only small bank for brown glass and loads more for its green and clear brethern at the recycling centre? As I stood there on Saturday morning feeding this modern-day Moloch with brown bottle after brown bottle, I thought it noteworthy: surely as beer is still the most popular drink in the UK then there should be more mouths for the bottles that hold the liquid. Or are people drinking more cans — cue can on can action with Carlsberg, Pedigree Chum and Heinz — so there’s not the need for as many banks for brown; or is a case of a tide of clear glass bottles washing over the nation, oblivious to the problems that light-struck beer can bring? Is this a desperate conspiracy against beer to make us drink more wine (or heaven forbid drink less of anything) or just a regional variation? I am in Somerset after all and for a fiver or so you can get a plastic flagon of the sort of cider that would make a cat speak and you don’t go anywhere near a bottle bank, just keep filling up until you die.

8 comments:

  1. Your nation certainly has a serious problem with beer in clear glass bottles. Shepherd Neame, Greene King and Wells & Young spring immediately to mind. The Wells & Young's PR bod told me that the light damage to Burning Gold is a price they're happy to pay and they don't think the beer would sell in coloured glass.

    Also, what is one supposed to do with blue ones? All the preprandial Bombay & tonics and Sam Adams Triple Bocks for dessert add up to much uncertainty.

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  2. Blue glass goes in the green. In fact everything not clear or brown goes in the green glass bottle bank.
    Bottle banks in Switzerland (in the places where they don't come pick empties once a month to reduce nuisances) usually are slip one half green, one quarter clear, one quarter brown. That's because brown glass bottles are returnable sin most of our breweries, non-returnable ones being green.

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  3. Indeed Beer Nut, our nation has indeed got a problem with clear glass, it's getting very sad.

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  4. Recycling in the UK is shameful regardless of the fact Sainsbury's really think I buy more jars of jam than brown beer bottles?

    ASDA, based in Leeds, use PP 5 plastic in much of their packaging. PP 5 is not collected by Leeds City Council for recycling. True story.

    We should be reusing more too, and staying local more. I guess many larger organisations won't change until the market demands it, and that means consumer sacrifices.

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  5. With regards the re-use of bottles, there isn't the groundswell of enthusiasm for it among UK brewers (this isn't a criticism, just a observation).

    Ironically, we used to return bottles back to Belgium for re-use, until very recently, when it has now become uneconomical to do so.

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  6. Ales win hands down in the bottled beer stakes. But far more lager than ale is sold in the take home trade so it must be that outside of the pub people mostly drink canned beer.

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  7. This is interesting. I live Baltimore and take for granted the fact that I can put all of my recyclables(glass, paper and aluminum) into one receptacle, and the city picks it up once a week.

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