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Rainier to refill single-serve bottles in effort to clean up environment.

Rainier to refill single-serve bottles in effort to clean up environment

The Rainier Brewing Co. of Seattle, WA, announced it will counter the national trend and begin refilling all of its single-serving beer bottles.

In a move that is applauded by the state's leading environmental officer, Rainier becomes the only Pacific Northwest brewery to offer the once-common and now nearly-extinct practice of bottle refilling.

Rainier believes it may be the only major brewer in the United States to be refilling its full line and offering the service to consumers who buy beer in stores. Most bottles are non-returnable and only a few brewers even refill tavern bottles.

The announcement came less than a week after Gov. Booth Gardner bestowed Rainier with Washington state's business and industry 1990 Environmental Excellence award for the brewer's recycling efforts.

Rainier has refilled bottles since its founding in 1878; however, competition and industry trends in recent years had caused the brewery to stop refilling some of its newer bottle styles and to slow down its overall refilling program.

"We took a hard look at our responsibility as a regional company to mirror the deep environmental ethic of the Pacific Northwest," Rainier president Bruce Vaughan said.

The brewery has backed its bottle-refilling effort with $300,000 in capital improvements, new recyclable corrugated packaging, environmental messages in each carton, a cash-back system for bottle return, and recycling messages in its advertising.

Christine Gregoire, director, Washington State Department of Ecology, applauded the move. "The highest form of resource conservation is the reuse of materials. Programs like these set important standards for other to follow--I think it's great," she said.

According to Vaughan, if all of Rainier's bottles were returned for refilling, the brewery could keep nearly two million cubic feet of trash out of landfills and off highways.

"Refilling conserves energy and other natural resources, Vaughan explained, "and it may prove more economical to wash, sterilize and refill bottles than to use new, one-way bottles.

"We're doing this to reflect our Pacific Northwest values, but we'll feel that much more rewarded if this ends up making economic sense," the president Vaughan continued.

Rainier's environmental effort also includes annual recycling of 3,000 tons of aluminum cans, 600 tons of corruagated cardboard and wastepaper, and 18 million pounds of spent grains and yeast. The latter, a byproduct of the brewing process, are used as a feed supplement for dairy livestock, Vaughan noted.

Rainier is joined in its refilling program by its sister brewery, the Blitz-Weinhard Brewing Co. in Portland, OR.

Beginning immediately, Vaughan said, consumers can return bottles to wholesalers and commercial recycling centers for cash. Returns are accepted for all Rainier and Blitz-Weinhard brands. Although the brewerys' 40-oz. bottled products can't be refilled, they can be recycled at various centers, Vaughan said.

PHOTO : RECYCLE WITH RAINIER-In an effort to clean up the environment, the Rainier Brewing Co. of

PHOTO : Seattle, WA, has initiated a refilling program for all of the brewer's single-serving

PHOTO : bottles.
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Title Annotation:Rainier Brewing Co.
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:May 7, 1990
Previous Article:Coors' Killian's Irish Red now available in 12-oz. cans.
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