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CARIB wants its bottles back, please

bottles

CARIB Brewery, the drink juggernaut that produces close to one million bottles of beer every day and exports to 31 countries, is pleading for you to return its bottles.

It wants the empty Shandy bottles you have stacked up in cases in your backyard.

It wants the Carib beer bottles you toss in the bin or, worse, in the street and on the beach.

It wants the half-empty Stag bottles you put down in the corner of the fete, all the better to jump up.

Carib, the only producer of glass bottles in the English-speaking Caribbean, wants the bottles back so badly it pays for them: 30 cents a bottle for the ones that contain Carib beer, Carib Pilsner Light beer, Stag beer, Heineken beer, Mackeson stout, Shandy Carib, Ginseng Up, Malta Carib and Guinness Foreign Extra stout. Even the plastic cases they’re sold in are bought from customers for $2.80 each. The only bottles that aren’t returnable are Smalta and Smirnoff Ice.

Carib sterilises then reuses bottles that are in good condition and crushes then recycles the ones that aren’t. The company prefers the bottles to be returned in good condition rather than picked up after they’re discarded, which increases the likelihood they’ll be too damaged to be reused.

Reusing saves the company money, of course, but it also has a smaller environmental cost than producing new bottles, even when using recycled material. Reusing bottles reduces the consumption of natural materials—sand, soda ash and limestone—used to produce new bottles. It also uses less energy and results in less pollution.

“We live on an island and simply cannot afford to indiscriminately dump our waste, “ said Carib commercial director Miguel Marquez.

“Fortunately, 90 per cent of our bottles are returnable and the other 10 per cent are recyclable. So consumers can make the easy choice of enjoying their preferred beverage while protecting the environment. If we don’t consider the way we discard our waste, we will be surrounded by garbage and this has not only an environmental impact but also an impact on local and international tourism and eventually the economy.”

Carib has seen a decline in the number of bottles being returned in recent years. In response to this, the company has started a campaign to encourage people to return bottles. Consumers will be reminded to return bottles through posters in groceries, bars and other places that sell Carib products. Bottles can be returned to any of these outlets.

The posters will tell consumers that through returning bottles they can “save the earth” and “earn money.” Reminders to return will also be put prominently on cartons and boxes.

“We want consumers to understand that the return of the bottles is bigger than remuneration.” said the company’s marketing director Carla Furlonge-Walker. “This is about us and our space. This is about T&T and our future. Carib Brewery has been here for over 65 years and by right we believe that we should lead the way when it comes to responsible manufacturing. We have always had a returnable bottle policy, however, we do recognise that the less people return, the greater the negative impact. We’ve noted the decline and as the largest user of glass bottles, we are doing our part to fix this.

“Our drive is to get that entire bottle unit back intact and ready to come through our system, be washed, sterilised and used again,” said Carib marketing director Carla Furlonge-Walker.

Sarah de Freitas, project officer from Plastikeep, an NGO that promotes recycling, said she was surprised that Carib was seeing a decrease in the number of returned bottles, since she believes a recycling culture in T&T is “starting to build”. She suggested that consumers may feel less urgency to recycle glass because of the focus recycling campaigns put on plastic, which is more widely used and carelessly discarded.

“I think people understand the hazards of plastic on the environment,” said de Freitas. “But maybe people aren’t aware why glass needs to be recycled.”

She emphasises that this is just speculation.

“For us to really find out, a study or a survey needs to be done,” she said.

Patrons at Chaplains Bar on French St. in Woodbrook gave a more prosaic suggestion for Carib’s return shortfall.

“The remuneration isn’t enough,” said Pelham Rawlins. “Thirty cents a bottle?! It’s not worth the effort.”

Another patron, who did not want to give his name, explained: “You go to the beach, you buy a case of beer, you not going to tote back them beers and them. Especially when you done rest them down in the sand. You throw it in the garbage and you go your way.”

He added: “Who in they right mind would say, ‘This worth 30 cents, we looking to pick up this when we done’?”

A visit to the facility where Carib sorts and sterilises bottles for reuse shows that getting people to return is only part of the challenge.

The ways bottles are stored and used affect their likelihood of surviving the sorting process. Storing bottles for too long in the sun makes it more difficult for the labels to be removed in order for the bottles to be sterilised. If the labels can’t be removed, the bottles are rejected by the largely automated process.

There’s actually an entire machine dedicated to removing straws. If the straws are pushed down too far, the bottles are rejected. Rejected bottles fill drums at the end of the assembly line in the noisy facility, through which a strong antiseptic smell pervades. The rejected bottles are sent to Carib Glass, the bottle production arm of the company, to be recycled.

The plastic crates, which are also reused, can be rejected because customers use them as work stools. Some are so covered with cement or paint they can’t be salvaged.

Ultimately, only a small percentage of bottles and crates are rejected and, for reducing cost and environmental harm, reusing beats having to make them from scratch.

The executives at Carib Brewery hope that pushing how reusing bottles can help the environment will convince consumers that returning bottles is worth the effort.

“It’s going to be a very consistent effort from our side,” Furlonge-Walker said. “It’s actually putting it in your face when you open a carton that it is returnable.

“We intend to be out there driving home not only the message of returning bottles for re-use but also the importance of protecting the environment.”

“I think people understand the hazards of plastic on the environment,” said de Freitas. “But maybe people aren’t aware why glass needs to be recycled.”

She emphasises that this is just speculation.

“For us to really find out, a study or a survey needs to be done,” she said.

Patrons at Chaplains Bar on French St. in Woodbrook gave a more prosaic suggestion for Carib’s return shortfall.

“The remuneration isn’t enough,” said Pelham Rawlins. “Thirty cents a bottle?! It’s not worth the effort.

Another patron, who did not want to give his name, explained: “You go to the beach, you buy a case of beer, you not going to tote back them beers and them. Especially when you done rest them down in the sand. You throw it in the garbage and you go your way.”

He added: “Who in they right mind would say, ‘This worth 30 cents, we looking to pick up this when we done’?”

A visit to the facility where Carib sorts and sterilises bottles for reuse shows that getting people to return is only part of the challenge.

The ways bottles are stored and used affect their likelihood of surviving the sorting process. Storing bottles for too long in the sun makes it more difficult for the labels to be removed in order for the bottles to be sterilised. If the labels can’t be removed, the bottles are rejected by the largely automated process.

There’s actually an entire machine dedicated to removing straws. If the straws are pushed down too far, the bottles are rejected. Rejected bottles fill drums at the end of the assembly line in the noisy facility, through which a strong antiseptic smell pervades. The rejected bottles are sent to Carib Glass, the bottle production arm of the company, to be recycled.

The plastic crates, which are also reused, can be rejected because customers use them as work stools. Some are so covered with cement or paint they can’t be salvaged.

Ultimately, only a small percentage of bottles and crates are rejected and, for reducing cost and environmental harm, reusing beats having to make them from scratch.

The executives at Carib Brewery hope that pushing how reusing bottles can help the environment will convince consumers that returning bottles is worth the effort.

“It’s going to be a very consistent effort from our side,” Furlonge-Walker said. “It’s actually putting it in your face when you open a carton that it is returnable.

“We intend to be out there driving home not only the message of returning bottles for re-use but also the importance of protecting the environment.”

Taken from: Trinidad Guardian
Story by: Erline Andrews
Date: Wednesday 3rd June, 2015
Page: A29, Life
http://www.guardian.co.tt/lifestyle/2015-06-03/carib-wants-its-bottles-back-please