At Allagash, we’re able to recycle or sidestream about 99.8% of our waste. That last .2% is something we’re trying to address with the Allagash Recycling Co-op that we launched in March of 2021.
So why do we need a recycling co-op to do that? Some outputs of the brewing process are more easily recyclable, like aluminum cans, glass bottles, and other material. And then we have spent grain (grain that has gone through the brewing process) that we sell—at a steep discount—to local cattle farmers. And those materials luckily make up the majority of what we produce. The brewing process, however, does rely on some materials that local recycling companies either can’t process, or need to receive in bulk shipments to make sure the materials are processed correctly. Materials like this include: shrink wrap, grain bags, PakTech carriers, metal caps and cages, corks, and more.
This pallet of bailed grain bags can now be sent off to be recycled; individual bags often can’t be processed by single-sort recycling facilities.
And the fact that we don’t use that much of those materials makes them harder to recycle. Add to that, many smaller breweries don’t have the bandwidth, nor the space, to aggregate these sorts of materials to make them recyclable. Enter, the Allagash Recycling Co-op.
The Allagash Recycling Co-op is a program that encourages local breweries to drop off their hard-to-recycle items at the Allagash Warehouse—where we’ll be storing them until we have enough to bail and send to a recycling center, where they’ll be properly recycled. As of this blog’s publication, we already have three local breweries signed on: Bissell Brothers Brewing, Foundation Brewing Co, and Maine Beer Company.
The execution of this program is in huge part the work of our Green Team, a group of especially sustainability-minded employees within the brewery. We’d also be remiss if we didn’t shout out another great brewery, Bell’s Brewing out in Michigan, who are also orchestrating a program exactly like this one. We’d also add that if you happen to work at a brewery that either wants to become involved in our program, or wants some tips on starting a program like this at your brewery, you can just reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll direct you to the right person.
Bailed cardboard, ready and waiting to start its next life as properly recycled material!