Endeavour Group’s beer can clip reuse program is satisfying a thirst to find a sustainable solution for an age-old problem.
In 2019, more than 74.6 million litres of beer were available for consumption domestically, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
With every case sold, packaging components such as cardboard, plastic and paper make their way into the community, and often landfill.
Diarmaid O’Mordha, Endeavour Group Quality and Sustainability Manager says that the opportunity to create a sustainable market for one of these components is an exciting prospect.
In an Australian first, Endeavour Group is partnering with the Independent Brewers Association (IBA), East Coast Canning, Visy Recycling and PakTech to launch a new re-use and recycle program for leftover can clips.
“I had been doing some work regarding sustainability of packaging in the wine industry,” Diarmaid says. “Looking across to the beer industry, there was definitely an opportunity to do something similar in this area.”
Can clips are used to hold four or six cans together. Because of the sturdiness of the material used in each clip, they can be difficult to recycle. However, Endeavour Group is establishing a collection system in participating BWS and Dan Murphy’s stores which will result in can clips being reused. Currently 20 stores across Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane are participating.
Under the program, used beer can clips can be handed back at store collection points. Once collected, the clips can be re-used more than 50 times before they reach their end-of-life.
Diarmaid says the scheme, still in its infancy, has been launched on a small scale to assess its success.
He says the clip material provided a unique opportunity to base the program on both a re-use and recycle objective.
“When we looked into it, we discovered material recycling facilities at their current form are not designed to recycle the clips,” Diarmaid says.
“Knowing that there were limited options for recycling we spoke to Visy Recycling. Visy Recycling now collect all of the clips, put them in a bin which goes to their HDPE (high-density polyethylene) recycling plant in Smithfield, which is specially set up to melt down the material and turn it into resin, which can then be sent to PakTech.”
Clip manufacturers PakTech convert the resin into more beer can clips, effectively creating a circular process for the product.
Suppliers for sustainability
East Coast Canning, Australia’s first mobile canning company, provides labelling, packaging, and consultation services to breweries nationwide. Chris Kelly, Founder and General Manager at East Coast Canning says the can clip program reflects recent efforts from the supplier to promote sustainability within its own operations.
“We supply a really significant amount of pre-labelled cans each month, we also supply packaging such as PakTech clips – the four and six pack clips which are involved in the program,” he says.
“Internally at East Coast Canning we’re on a pretty large environmental push. One of the things that we really wanted to look at was circularising PakTechs and we have been doing a lot of work as a business.”
Chris says it was this push towards sustainability, and co-incidence, that led to the company joining the program.
“We reached out to Endeavour Group and basically said that we have these ideas, but we are not sure how to pull them off. All we needed was a source of materials and we could do the rest.
“I reached out and Diarmaid knew straight away that I wanted to talk about PakTech clips. It just so happened that a few days later a meeting was kicking off to discuss the final look and feel of the program with Visy, IBA and Endeavour so we jumped into that first meeting.”
Chris says that East Coast Canning’s role in the program will be to satisfy the treatment requirements of the significant supply of clips coming in from customers.
“The way that we fit in is our ability to batch process large amounts,” he says.
“We sell hundreds of PakTech clips each month. The idea is that we take that excess and re-sort and re-capture it into a product that we will be able to sell, along with the rest of our PakTech offering.”
Chris says that being able to support a sustainable program has been met with a sense of pride from East Coast Canning staff.
“For us, there is that feeling that we can contribute to the cause. We also reckon that the program may be able to create jobs for the long-term future, depending on what the pilot program looks like one year or more from now,” he says.
“As an industry everyone is aware, and the vast majority of people want to do more, in terms of sustainability and the environment.”
Another participant of the program, All Inn Brewing, is supporting the scheme in the hope of giving back to its local community.
Situated in Banyo, Queensland, All Inn Brewing is focused on procuring quality beer and sustainable outcomes while supporting the local community.
Luke Philips, Head of Sales says the brewery has quite a local following.
“We’re only as strong as the people that support us,” he says.”We want to look after our own guys, so we do a lot of support with local football clubs, local bowls clubs.”
He says the beer can clip program presented an ideal opportunity to invest further in collection services.
“We already have a small program that people can drop off products to the brewery, so this was an opportunity for us to expand that and contribute to the program,” he says. “A lot of these products are just going to landfill, so we’d like to stop that and grow the awareness around that.”
All Inn Brewing will help with the circulation of the clip back to suppliers.
“We go around to the stores, and we collect the clips.
“We only use black PakTechs ourselves, so any other colours get sent to Visy where it can be melted down and then recycled,” Luke says.
“We sort through them, if they are not physically damaged, we put them through a washing process. The clips are then tested to make sure that there isn’t any chemical residue on them or anything unsafe.
“We will then re-sticker them with barcodes and put them back into circulation.”
For Luke, the program is further proof of the breweries efforts to improve the local community.
“We want to be this brewery that thinks about the local community and thinks about what we can achieve,” he says.
“Not just to produce amazing beers, but also have a positive influence on what is happening in the community.”
For more information, visit: www.endeavourgroup.com.au