Oregon Launches the Country's First State-Wide Refillable Beer Bottle Program

iStock
iStock

Being a frequent beer drinker doesn't just affect your waistline. It's also not good for the environment—all those cans and bottles add up. But Oregonians soon won't have to feel guilty for the bottles piling up in their trash cans, because the state just launched the first state-wide refillable beer bottle program in the U.S., as NPR and EarthFix report.

Oregon breweries are selling their beer in thicker, heavier beer bottles that customers can return to be cleaned and refilled, just like the milk bottles of yore. Seven craft breweries whose beers are available in stores across the state are currently participating in the refillable bottle program, but the distinct bottles can be used and refilled at any brewery in the state, and the program will likely expand in the coming years.

The bottles, stamped with the word "refillable," are made from recycled glass and can be reused up to 40 times. The design was developed by the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, and customers can drop them off at any of the group's 21 redemption centers. The organization also runs the state's general container deposit-refund system, so customers can bring them to the same locations as any other recyclables.

The thicker shape allows them to be separated out from other recyclables that get dropped off at bottle deposit sites, ensuring that they get sorted out to be refilled rather than recycled with standard glass bottles.

Oregon passed the first state bottle bill in the nation in 1971 as a way to encourage recycling. In 2018, the state increased the bottle deposit from 5 cents to 10 cents, hoping to increase redemptions. About 73 percent of metal, glass, and plastic recyclables were actually redeemed in 2017, up from 64 percent in 2016.

While refillable beverage containers aren't the norm in the U.S., other countries are far ahead of us. Some provinces in Canada have nearly a 99 percent return rate for their refillable bottles, and the average bottle is reused 15 times. Most beer in Germany is sold in mehrweg, or reusable, bottles, and consumers can return them to any store that sells reusable-bottle beer to get their deposit back.

Though the Oregon program is an environmental boon, the carbon savings won't be as high as they could be. Oregon doesn't yet have a bottle washing facility to process the refillables, so they currently have to be shipped to Montana for washing. Eventually, the program will set up some of these washing facilities in-state, increasing its utility.

[h/t NPR]

Watch: Rare ‘Ice Volcanoes’ Are Erupting on a Michigan Beach

ehrlif, iStock via Getty Images
ehrlif, iStock via Getty Images

Winter weather leads to all sorts of strange phenomena, from thundersnow to ice tsunamis. But these "ice volcanoes" recently documented on the shores of Lake Michigan are spectacular enough to impress even lifelong veterans of Great Lakes winters.

As News 18 reports, the Grand Rapids, Michigan, department of the National Weather Service shared images of the icy eruptions to its Facebook and Twitter pages on Sunday, February 16. They show geysers of water bursting forth from the tops of snowy mounds on Oval Beach. The scene looks like a bizarre version of a volcano spewing lava, but it's actually the natural result of the lake's tides.

CW50 Detroit reports no one is completely sure how these ice volcanoes form. But Live Science says ice shelves along the coast stop the waves of Lake Michigan from reaching the shore. As the tides move under the ice sheet, pressure builds, and with nowhere else to go, water breaks the ice and spurts through the opening. The water from each eruption freezes when it settles on the ice above the surface, and the ice layers build upon each other to form a cone shape. This is similar to how real volcanoes form, only instead of layers of water freezing into ice, it's molten lava hardening into rock.

There's no seismic activity going on when these ice volcanoes erupt: It's simply the lake's natural tide persisting in spite of freezing temperatures. But, like real volcanoes, they can be dangerous. The ice mounds are hollow and more fragile than the surrounding ice, so onlookers should appreciate them from afar. You can view the phenomenon from the safety of your home by watching the video below.

[h/t News 18]

These Eco-Friendly Bags Are Organic and Break Down in 18 Months or Less

A-Zero
A-Zero

If you’re looking to cut down on the amount of single-use plastics in your life, then reach for these fully compostable organic bags.

The A-Zero bags (which are available on Kickstarter here) may look a lot like their plastic counterparts, but they’re actually made from vegetable starch. According to the campaign, these totes are 100 percent organic, are harmless to nature, and can break down in a matter of 18 months—unlike plastic bags, which take hundreds of years. Each bag also features unique designs created by different artists from all over the world.

When it comes to sizes, you have a few different options. The smallest bag, ideal for snacks and sandwiches, is leak-proof and freezer-friendly, and can even be used in the microwave. A-Zero also makes leak-proof trash bags, grocery bags that can hold up to 18 pounds of food, and a refillable bag dispenser that can hold 20 or more grocery bags and can clip onto a backpack or purse.

You might be thinking that you already have a reusable tote at home, but unfortunately, these also have a detrimental effects on the environment. A 2011 British government study [PDF] estimated that with all the water and energy it takes to create a cotton bag, each one has a carbon footprint of 598.6 pounds of CO2, compared to a plastic bag’s 3.48 pounds.

With $22,522 raised, A-Zero bags already surpassed its original $8000 goal. But you can still help bring the project to life and get your own eco-friendly bags by heading here. Pledge tiers start at $29, and the campaign will be live until April 11.

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