Dozens of Chicago-area craft breweries have joined together in an effort to eliminate plastic waste created by the millions of can carriers that cycle through the region every year. The Chicagoland Can Carrier Reuse and Recycling Co-op aims to raise awareness in the craft beer community that the plastic carriers holding many of their favorite beverages often end up in landfill – even when they’re tossed in the recycling bin. As a result, participating breweries are encouraging consumers to bring them back to be reused or properly recycled.

“People think they’re doing the right thing when they drop them in their single-stream recycling bins, but because recycling centers have difficulty processing them, they might be doing more harm than good,” says Alex Parker, founder of Craft for Climate, a Chicago-based organization that’s coordinating the co-op effort. “We want breweries and consumers to know that there’s a better way.”

Despite being marketed as “100% recyclable” by manufacturers, most plastic can carriers end up in the waste stream after just one use. It’s an unfortunate reality that has frustrated the environmentally conscious craft brewing industry for some time, mostly because pitching them into curbside recycling bins is actually part of the problem. In the Chicago area alone, it’s estimated that more than 10 million can carriers are in circulation annually. Less than 10% of them end up getting reused or recycled.*

Like almost all plastic packaging, snap-on can carriers (sometimes called holders, handles or toppers) are incompatible with sorting equipment. As a result, they get rejected at material recovery facilities (MRFs) and sent to landfill, which has negative impacts on the environment. So far, more than two dozen breweries and bottle shops in the Chicago area have joined the co-op, including Half Acre Beer, Temperance Brewing, Art History, Midwest Coast, Une Anne/Hubbard’s Cave, and Orange and Brew, pledging to collect and reuse the durable packaging.

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Author: Brewbound
Image: Brewbound