Oregon launches statewide refillable beer bottle effort to curb carbon emissions

Oregon is known for breath-taking vistas, bat-shit crazy ranchers, roller derby, and beer. A new state-wide effort to reduce carbon emissions by using easily cleanable and refillable beer bottles will help preserve several of these things.


"Anything we get back and clean saves us money down the road, and of course is a more responsible environmental package," Swihart said. "Frankly it's just the right thing to do."

Swihart said what he really needed was a better system of returning the bottles to his brewery.

Now, he has one. It came along with a new bottle developed by the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative, the group that runs the state's bottle deposit system with support from major beverage distributors.

The cooperative already has a statewide infrastructure for collecting bottles.

"We're in a really unique position to make this work," said the cooperative's spokesperson, Joel Schoening. "We're introducing a bottle we can sell to any brewery that's interested in using that bottle."

The new bottles — which can be refilled up to 40 times — are made mostly from recycled glass at the Owens-Illinois glass manufacturing plant in Northeast Portland. The bottles were designed to be easily separated from the rest of the glass in the existing bottle deposit system, Schoening said. That will ensure those bottles get refilled instead of recycled.

For consumers, he said, basically nothing has to change as long as they collect their bottle deposits.

"I like to say all the consumer has to do is choose to buy it," he said. "When they go through a machine, they'll have a unique barcode that will identify them as different from another glass bottle."

Lisa Morrison, co-owner of the Portland bottle shop Belmont Station and a well-known beer writer and connoisseur, said she remembers her parents returning bottles for reuse — not recycling — when she was a kid in Oklahoma.

"If you look back, that was something that used to happen all the time," she said.

Belmont Station was one of the places Double Mountain customers could always return their refillable beer bottles. But now, Morrison said, she can leave that job to the Oregon Beverage Recycling Cooperative.

"I think having OBRC in on this is huge," she said. "That's what's really going to keep it going."

At the bottle shop last week, Double Mountain offered free samples of the pale ale and IPA it is now selling in refillable 12-ounce bottles.