Zero Waste Beer

Living zero waste isn’t about deprivation; it’s about living with less and figuring out better solutions that just happen to not involve disposable packaging. And it’s about time we talked about beer.

growlerBeer is one of Grant’s very favorite things, and in Canada, all the major domestic brewers (Molson, Sleemans etc) refill their glass bottles. It’s a carryover from before the age of cans, and luckily it has stuck with us. We also have excellent take back programs (known in the US as bottle bills). That 10 cent deposit we pay on every beer can or bottle seems like a little thing, but it really works. The National Brewers Association reports that Canadians recycle 99% of their beer bottles  – nice work everyone!

Of course the metal caps and cardboard boxes are recyclable, but if you’re looking for a truly zero waste option beyond brewing your own, your best beer bet is to buy from a local microbrewery.

We recently visited Bridge Brewing in North Vancouver where we discovered that the owners Leigh and Jason are kindred souls in zero waste.  They are a microbrewery in the truest sense of the word, recently upsized from a garage hobby to a full fledged business with a tiny tasting bar squeezed into a little industrial strip near the Second Narrows Bridge.


They mill their own grain and compost it when they’re done, they wash caps for reuse instead of trashing them, and they’re looking for options for their grain sacks beyond recycling. They mostly sell growlers; large refillable glass jugs with reusable screw caps that hold just under a six pack of beer with no disposable packaging whatsoever! bridge brewingLeigh, who sports the awesome title of Director of Consumption, says she doesn’t like folks using plastic cups, so she even has a stock of glasses she lends out if you’re buying a keg. It’s this kind of customer service that makes me think that Bridge is going to be around for quite a while.

capsMicrobreweries mean you’re buying direct from the source – supporting the local economy, and getting a fantastic, package-free product to boot. If you’re near North Van, swing by Bridge, and if not, post your favorite brewery that refills growlers in the comments!



Filed under food, interactions, product reviews

16 responses to “Zero Waste Beer

  1. Lauren

    Phillips in Victoria. They have a few standards on tap, plus some rotating seasonals. That way you don’t get bored. That is if you can actually get bored of delicious beer.

  2. Liz

    Even more zero waste if you ride this bike there 🙂
    Bridge also is so cool that they just sponsored a North Shore run, offering free refills to anyone who carried 2 growlers for the entire 10k – and donated all run entrance fees to the local “Harvest Project” (that helps people in need). Clearly, Bridge Brewery rocks.

  3. You mentioned metal bottle caps are recyclable, but do you know where? I’ve been collecting mine for months with the hope of figuring out how to recycle them in Vancouver!

  4. You mentioned metal bottle caps are recyclable, but do you know where? I’ve been collecting mine for months with the hope of figuring out how to recycle them in Vancouver!

  5. CrazyPlasticLady

    Thanks for the info! Do you know how long the beer will ‘stay fresh’ after bottling?

    • If unopened, a growler of beer will last two weeks (ish). Once you open it, they say you should drink it within a few days. It doesn’t go off, just becomes less carbonated.

  6. This is awesome guys! You guys have done/are doing exactly what we are doing! Yah to zero waste movements from around the world!
    Bel and Dunc from

    • That’s fantastic guys! Great minds think alike! I’ll add you to our list of zero wasters, and we’ll be following along. Will be interesting to compare options to find to those we have in Canada.

  7. Hey guys- you are an inspiration. I’ve always been initmately tied to our environment, and have tried to reduce my life’s excess packaging substantially, but you shone a whole new light on the matter. Seriously, I had never given much thought to the club frills inevitably stabbing cafe sandwiches! I can hold my own tosta together, thanks. That stuff adds up all too quickly. As far as growlers go, Hardywood Park Brewery in Richmond, Virginia, is a beloved and rather green craft brewery in this neck o’ the woods. If you find yourself in the state anytime soon, be sure to pay them a visit. =)

  8. Hi, thanks for such a nice article on zero waste solution. I wish, there were more places like that in Europe. I am big supporter of this strategy and even noticed your in one of the comments your solution with the beer caps! Really excellent. I am glad people are getting more interested in the waste reduction.

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