W. MI breweries, companies team up to create recycling ‘co-op’

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

The new recycling cooperative among several Kalamazoo craft brewery. (Courtesy Bell’s Brewery)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A grant is allowing half a dozen West Michigan breweries to band together to go green.

Bell’s Brewery in Kalamazoo applied for the Recycling Market Development Grant through the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.

The $12,000 grant allowed for the purchase of two balers that Bell’s, One Well Brewing, Latitude 42 Brewing, Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s Sustainable Brewing Program, Handmap Brewing, Final Gravity, Territorial Brewing and natural hops, spice and herb extract provider Kalsec will share as a recycling “co-op.” The grant required getting a nonprofit involved, so the breweries turned to the Kalamazoo Nature Center.

One of the balers will focus only on huge sacks that can hold up to 3,000 pounds of grain each. They’re made of made of polypropylene, which is recyclable.

“The amount of grain bags per brewery, it’s significant, but as part of our overall waste stream it’s kind of a small because most of our malt, the grain for brewing, we get it delivered into really big silos. The grain bags are more for like specialty malts. So when it’s like a porter season, we see a lot of grain bags all at once and those take up a ton of space,” Kate Martini, Bell’s sustainability specialist, explained.

In all, the first baler should keep 26,000 pounds of plastic out of landfills every year.

The second baler will be used to gather cardboard from all the breweries, doing away with the need for each one to spend money on individual recycling programs.

The bales of recyclable will be processed by Padnos in Grand Rapids and AJ’s Recycling Services in Kalamazoo, which Bell’s says will divert 26,000 pounds of plastic per year from Michigan landfills.

Those interested in participating can fill out a form online.  

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