A Kalamazoo-area recycling “co-op,” that includes six local craft breweries, will divert about 26,000 lbs. of plastic per year from Michigan landfills.
The collaborative led by the Kalamazoo Nature Center and us applied for and received a $12,000 Recycling Market Development Grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE).
One Well Brewing, Kalsec Inc., Presidential Brewing, Landscape Forms, Latitude 42 Brewing Company, Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s sustainable brewing program, Handmap Brewing (Battle Creek), Final Gravity, Territorial Brewing Company (also located in Battle Creek), and natural hops, spice and herb extract provider Kalsec are all participating by collecting and contributing material to this initiative.
Based on a similar program developed by Great Divide Brewing Co, the grant was used to purchase two balers. One provides a recycling outlet for bags made of woven polypropylene that is used for brewing grains, like barley, and other ingredients that come in large quantities.
“These bags, which also include super sacks (bulk bags that can hold up to 3,000 lbs.) are recyclable. The problem was that up until now, none of us had access to a viable recycling outlet for it,” Kate Martini, Bell’s Sustainability Specialist said.
In order to make this material viable for a recycler, we needed to have truckloads of the stuff, which most breweries do not generate on their own, even here at Bell’s. We also needed equipment to bale all of it for transport, Martini added.
The grant facilitated the purchase of the baling equipment and by inviting other breweries and manufacturers to participate, minimum quantities will be met.
The second baler will be used to consolidate cardboard from participating partners. Baling cardboard makes it eligible for a small rebate and the revenue from this material stream is used to sustain the program. It also has the added benefit of alleviating the need for partners to pay for their own small-scale cardboard recycling program.
Finished bales of material will be processed through a partnership with Padnos in Grand Rapids and their Kalamazoo partner AJ’s Recycling Services.
Those interested in becoming a co-op partner should fill out this form. Cheers to sustainability!