Worthy Brewing has recently placed a recycling container in their entryway to collect plastic six pack carriers and ship them to Eugene for repurposing. (Ryan Brennecke/Bulletin photo)

Two Bend brewers want to help recycle the six-pack can carriers used on their beers and have placed recycle bins at their breweries to keep the carriers out of the landfill.

Worthy Brewing and GoodLife Brewing Co. say the six-pack carriers made by their manufacturer, PakTech, a Eugene company that uses 100 percent recycled materials, are not recyclable in the blue curbside bins.

When enough customers bring the six-pack holders to their breweries they’ll drive them over to Eugene for repurposing.

Hard plastic six-pack carriers made by other companies need to go to the landfill, said Timm Schimke, Deschutes County Department of Solid Waste director. There is no market value in this kind of plastic, Schimke said.

At Worthy, the recycling at its NE Bellevue Drive pub is a temporary fix to finding a sustainable way to package its six-packs of beer, said Meghan Hoey, Worthy marketing director.

For a long-term fix, the company is reviewing its waste stream and looking at other packaging models and the carbon footprint left behind by each alternative, she said.

“In some counties it might be different, but here in Deschutes County, these six-pack holders are not recyclable,” she said. “We researched what could be a quick fix, and we ultimately want to move away from these carriers to get away from plastic.”

At Good Life Brewing Co., a bin was placed at the taproom at 70 SW Century Drive about a month ago, said Ty Barnett, brewery manager.

“We’ve been pushing PakTech to set up a recycling campaign because most people put them in their recycling bins and they’re not supposed to,” Barnett said. “With Worthy on the east side and us on the west, it will be a good mix.”

The bins are only good for can carriers made by PakTech, said Gary Panknin, PakTech sustainability officer. The company uses 100 percent recycled material for 87 percent of its package handles, Panknin said.

“The municipalities are putting a lot of limits on plastic recycling because there’s no market,” Panknin said. “I’m always in debate with them because other areas, like Washington, Colorado and Virginia, are all recycling these products.”

The county ships recycled materials to a Portland facility that sorts and sells the materials. But when the sorting encounters products that are not on the Deschutes County list of acceptable items, the sorting firms charge the county to take the nonrecyclable material to the landfill.

“Many times we keep stuff out of the recycling stream because of the economics and the item doesn’t have a lot of value,” Schimke said. “We want our stream manageable at the sorting centers.”

Worthy began using the carriers in June 2013. In 2018 Worthy produced 12,000 barrels of beer, a portion of which are sold in cans.

“We’re committed to finding the greenest possible solution for packaging,” Hoey said. “We want to weigh the carriers in balance. You have to balance end-to-end the packaging options. One of our big initiatives is to re-purpose or reduce our waste stream.”

— Reporter: 541-633-2117, sroig@bendbulletin.com

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