Craft Beer and Community Waste Solutions

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Sometimes, the best way to solve waste problems is to look to the past.

A few decades ago, most beer and pop came in glass bottles that could be returned, cleaned and refilled. But over the years, cheaper, disposable options entered the scene—and never left. Landfills today are filled with cans and bottles.

For residents wanting to crack a cold one without polluting the landfill, the Beverage Container Program operates permanent recycling depots in 18 NWT communities, with Dettah, Enterprise, N’dilo, Kakisa and Kátł’odeeche using nearby depots, and temporary satellite depots in others. These depots collect containers, return refundable deposit to consumers, and get those containers recycled. And northerners buy in big – of the more than 28 million beverage containers distributed in 2019-2020, nearly 22 million, or about  77%, were bought back to depots.

The bottle washing station has kept over 8,200 glass bottles from ending up in the trash.
But it’s not just individuals making a difference: the NWT Brewing Company took a page from the brewers of old and purchased a bottle washing station with help from the Waste Reduction and Recycling Initiative (WRRI).

It’s a move that fits right in with dozens of other projects across the territory funded by the Initiative since 2013 to reduce, reuse, and recycle materials not otherwise collected in the NWT. 

Read more: If You Build it, They Will Recycle 

The bottle washing station lets the brewery collect their bottles from the bottle depot, clean, refill and resell them. It’s what’s called a circular economy. Glass doesn’t have to be shipped south to be cleaned and reused, or end up in landfills, and it means less new bottles to purchase and ship into the territory. As of 2021, the bottle washing equipment has allowed for over 8,200 glass bottles to be collected, sanitized and reused without ever leaving the NWT.

“The WRRI funding went into buying our equipment, getting our facilities up-and-running, and training up our staff. With NWT Brewing Company bottles being returned to us through the Yellowknife Bottle Depot, we are getting multiple uses out of each bottle, ensuring that less glass makes its way to the landfill, and that we can sell more beer to thirsty customers,” says Weadick.

“NWT Brewing Company wanted to sell our beer in unique packaging that aligned with the can-do, make-do spirit of the North. We looked to the old-school stubby style of beer bottles which reminded us of the early, pioneering days of Yellowknife and the Northwest Territories,” says Brian Weadick, Brewer and Sales Manager. “Unlike those old days, we wanted to make the smallest possible environmental footprint.”

Cheers to that!


Do you have an idea for how to reduce and recycle in your community? The deadline for applications for this year’s funding is April 22. For more information, including how to apply, check out:

PHOTOS: Courtesy of the NWT Brewing Company