Craft brewers in Nova Scotia are cheering the arrival of the region's first industrial beer bottle washing service, saying it will mean a big boost to their bottom line.
Atlantic Bottle Wash Inc. is setting up in Burnside to sort, wash and palletize four to five million standard 341 ml bottles a year for three well known local micro breweries, Boxing Rock, Garrison and Propeller.
"It can save us 25 to 30 per cent on a bottle so it's significant," said John Allen, owner of Propeller Breweries.
Why it's needed
Craft brewers currently use bottles only once before the bottles enter the recycling stream and are washed and re-used by big breweries or ground up for glass.
Their options are to buy new bottles or truck in washed bottles from Quebec.
"Small breweries don't have the capacity, the economies of scale to wash them themselves ... So for us to get our hands on those, get some of them back and save some money is very important," Allen said Monday.
'Noticeable effect' on bottom line
Atlantic Bottle Wash says it took nearly a year to get an agreement from the industry association, Beer Canada, giving the company access to the standard 341 ml bottles returned to recycling depots in the region.
The plan is to secure access to the larger bottles popular with microbrewery customers and bottles used by other beverage producers.
Allen said Atlantic Bottle Wash will not meet all of his requirements, but he expects the service to significantly reduce the amount of new glass his company buys.
"It's going to be a very noticeable effect on the bottom line and that's for all the craft brewers," he said.
Meet the chief bottle washer
The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency loaned Atlantic Bottle Wash Inc. $250,000 to buy an industrial-scale washing machine, conveyors and electronic bottle scanners capable of detecting tiny defects at a rate of 43,000 bottles per hour.
The company contributed another $250,000 towards the equipment.
Company president and chief bottle washer Andre Anglehart estimates the overall project will cost close to $1 million.
He sees the deal securing access to 341 ml bottles for the three microbreweries as a first step.
Example of green economy
"There's easily 5 to 8 million bottles that can be stored, washed and resold, not only to the breweries but to the wineries and the distilleries in Atlantic Canada," Angelhart said.
Anglehart has been in the business for close to 20 years and also supplies glass bottles to the industry.
Dartmouth-Cole Harbour MP Darren Fisher, who made the announcement, applauded the service as an example of the green economy.
"As a lover of both craft beer and recycling I am delighted to be here today," he said.
Craft brewers cheer Atlantic regions first industrial beer bottle washing service. ACOA loans start up $250K. pic.twitter.com/zKOEEPwRJR— @Witherscbc