Yukon tries to limit the waste of thousands of bottles of beer

Yukon has asked major breweries to help it prevent waste by sending fresher beer. Every year, the territory dumps thousands of litres of beer that's past its expiry date.

Send us fresher beer, territory tells major brewers

Every year, thousands of expired bottles and cans of beer are poured down the drain at the Yukon Liquor Corporation warehouse in Whitehorse. (CBC)

The Yukon Liquor Corporation is taking steps to reduce the thousands of litres of beer it's pouring down the sink every year, said Mark Hill, the corporation's vice-president of operations.

On average, about 5,000 litres of beer are dumped annually because they are past the expiry date set by the breweries, Hill said. That's more than 14,000 bottles and cans that are cracked open and drained.  

The liquor corporation has asked two of the biggest, Molson Brewery and the Labatt Brewing Company, to help reduce waste by sending the freshest beer possible to the territory.

Mark Hill of the Yukon Liquor Corporation said any business that sells perishable goods has to dispose of expired products. (CBC)

Arriving expired

"We were getting frustrated. Some of the stuff showing up already expired," Hill said.

"Some of the stuff showing up, you know, between two and six weeks to go and our ordering cycle is longer than that. Typically from when we order, it takes three weeks just to get here."

Breweries give credits for most of the beer that's dumped, Hill said. Pouring it out may strike some as a waste, but Hill said it's part of any business that deals with perishable goods.

"Think of it like milk in a grocery store — it's got a best before date as well, and they're trying to have enough on hand to make sure that all their customers have it.

"When they have milk that goes past the best before, they're going to open it up and pour it down the drain as well," he said.

Hill said most beer has a shelf-life of about six months, while craft brews are typically good for about 90 days. (CBC)

It's common practice by liquor distribution corporations across Canada, Hill said.

The liquor corporation does mark the price of beer down as its expiry date draws near, but Hill argues it would be socially irresponsible to make it too inexpensive.

Mass-produced beers typically have a shelf life of about six months, while craft beers can last about 90 days, Hill said. He advises beer-lovers to store bottles and cans at home out of the sunlight, to help preserve freshness.

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