Monday, March 27, 2006

Have the glory days really gone? Back in my late school and early uni years there was an annual event that celebrated a Kiwi icon. Crate day was a bit of blokey boozey fun that many of you will relate to. There is still the odd crate day held around the country, although I'm sure it would be rare to see the same enthusiasm as displayed by some of my buddies "back in the day"...

Now binge drinking is not an activity to condone under any circumstance, so the reason I'm writing is that the love of the bottle has a pretty significant environmental pitfall. Until recently I'd enjoy a bitter from a pretty little bottle that came in cardboard. The problem with that is waste. Sure, we can recycle the glass (and the board), but it turns out that the glass doesn't get much further than the landfill. So
I've again taken to the "real" bottle. The 745ml variety that comes in a crate you can swap at the bottle store.

During the early part of 2005 New Zealands major glass recycler reduced the price they pay
Councils for the glass they return for processing. The price for cullet (as its called) was dropped from $92 to $10 per tonne. A big reason for this decision was that recycled glass had to compete with the cheap imported bottle glass most bottlers use. Problem: at a return of $10 per tonne it is too costly for Councils to send collected glass to Auckland for recycling. For a while the liquor industry was paying a levy to keep recycling viable, but now that agreement has expired bottles invariably sit in the yard at local landfills waiting for councils and industry find a long term solution.

Clearly then, as consumers "on the bottle", an obvious individual solution is to embrace the crate. However, if you find this
concept a little too "Bruce Bayliss", at least ask at your local where the glass you're buying comes from. If they don't know ask them to find out for your next visit. If its imported glass you're supporting the market that created the problem. And when you're out at a bar, order tap beer. Not only is it fresher, its also better for the planet.

So go on, embrace the crate... but always remember what Len Ring had to say...

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