Wednesday, August 18, 2010


If you're old enough to remember watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon, live on TV, you are probably old enough to remember drinking beer out of returnable bottles. I remember well collecting many cases worth of empty tall boys of Genesee Cream Ale after one successful party, and getting my deposit back from the local beer distributor in Pennsylvania. The deposit was a material percentage of the cost of the party, after all.

AP is reporting that the era of returnable bottles could be coming to an end.
For years, it was the way breweries did business: sell bottles, then take back the empties. It just made sense, especially to folks weaned in the lean days of the Great Depression and World War II, that bottles should be scrubbed and refilled, not thrown away.

These days, in a culture where nearly everything is disposable, recycling is a rite and energy costs are high, the decision of whether to toss tradition into the trash heap lies with one brewery about 100 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.

The 138-year-old, family-owned Straub Brewery is begging customers — mostly in Pennsylvania, but also some in Ohio, New York and Virginia — to return thousands of empty cases. If enough customers do, Straub will keep selling cases of 12- and 16-ounce returnable bottles past year's end.
I realize that there can be differing viewpoints on the economics and environmental costs and benefits of the various methods of packaging and distributing beer for retail consumption. That said, TigerHawk readers, if you have any bottles of Straub beer, do the right thing and return those empties!


By Blogger sykes.1, at Wed Aug 18, 08:13:00 AM:

Besides beer bottles, you could get the 2¢ deposit back on soda bottles. Furthermore, you did this at the retailer, not the distributor. I suspect nonreturnable bottles benefit only the retailers, because it takes less space and doesn't require handling.  

By Blogger TOF, at Wed Aug 18, 09:46:00 AM:

I'm old enough to remember VE-Day and VJ-Day, but I don't remember taking my father's beer bottles in to redeem a deposit. However, like sykes.1, I do remeber collecting soda bottles and redeeming them for a bit of cash -- also papers, rags, and whatever else the local recycler would take. But back then they didn't call it recycling.  

By Anonymous feeblemind, at Wed Aug 18, 10:25:00 AM:

I remember the returnable bottles. We used to drink out of scratched, scuffed and nicked bottles and think nothing of it. Wonder what people would think of buying their beverage in those kind of bottles today?

Also remember the Coke bottles. Many if not most had the town and state of the bottler on the bottom but they got mixed up and ended up all over the USA. When we would get bottled Coke out of a machine, everyone would look at the bottom of the bottle, the guy that had the bottle closest to home had to buy everyone's coke. It was fun.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Aug 18, 11:03:00 AM:

It is funny that returnable bottles are still used quite a bit in the third world where living green is economically not viable. If you go to Mexico, Dominican Republic, Belize and South Africa, glass beer and soda bottles are all returnable and it is worth it to the kids to scrounge them to earn pocket money as well. Yet here in the world of the green mentality we use plastic water bottles and throw tons and tons of glass away every day. mpw  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Aug 20, 07:16:00 AM:

Go North young man.
Here in Ontario, Canada beer can only be purchased at The Beer Store outlets run collectively by the beer makers (although select beer can be purchased at the government run Liquor Control Board - LCBO). All purchases bear an automatic deposit and our return rate is very high at around 94%. All bottles are refillable.
Now that you're done with bringing your health care down to our level, how about central control of beer? Ya, that's it, state run beer!  

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