How Imperial Oak Got Consumers to Help in Recycling

Since Imperial Oak Brewing had already been accepting Paktechs from a few regular customers that asked if the Chicagoland brewery could use them again, owner and brewer Grant​ Hamilton said it was an easy yes to work with Craft for Climate when approached about finding​ a way to take part in a recycling effort.​

​Throughout June the brewery teamed with dozens of other breweries in the area to recycle the plastic carriers.

Every time a consumer bought a 4- or 6-pack with a carrier, they were encouraged to bring them back in a stack to be recycled in the “Recycle for a Pint” campaign.

For as tall as the stack of carriers were, that’s how much beer was poured … up the size of a pint.

“The recycling project presented via email by Craft for Climate was 100% their idea,” Hamilton said. “However, this idea fits nicely with what we had already been doing with our patrons on a smaller scale.”

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There was also an outlet to drop those that the brewery couldn’t re-use in its process. Hamilton said they sorted them to kick out the ones that the brewery was unable to reuse. They would take the re-usable returns and soak them in a sanitizing solution Hamilton said they already use at the brewery and then let them dry.

Most were cut into 2-pack holders as this is what Imperial Oak sells its barrel-aged offerings in or the carrier would go right back into its process for packaging to-go beers.

​”We immediately found great support and turnout for this project at our pubs, as we collected approx 2​,​500 ​Paktechs in the first two weeks,” Hamilton said. “We don’t distro, so this is really a super localized recycling circle we have created with this.”

​The brewery used social media posts, posters in the taproom, and word of mouth​ to help get consumers up to speed on what was happening​.

​”​We’ve had great positive feedback from our community on our social media and that translated to the success of the program thus far​,” he said. “I feel like the payoff is a long game here like all recycling is.​”

​A few years ago Imperial Oak changed its policies on single-use plastics (cups and straws mainly) and increased its sorting of recycling materials that go back to refuse collections. Hamilton said it saves money and keeps those plastics out of the landfill.

​”​You don’t see an immediate drop in greenhouse gasses or use of fossil fuels from this,​” he said,​ “but there is a bit of gratification knowing that you are working with others toward a solution on reducing our impact on the environment.​”​

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