Here's what happens when we work together. A group of local brewers and related businesses, along with the Kalamazoo Nature Center, have created a "co-op" that will see 26,000 lbs. of plastic per year diverted from Michigan landfills.

The group, led by the Nature Center and Bell’s Brewery, applied for, and received a $12,000 Recycling Market Development Grant from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE).

Those participating in the effort are: One Well Brewing, Latitude 42 Brewing Company, Kalamazoo Valley Community College’s sustainable brewing program, Handmap Brewing (Battle Creek), Final Gravity, Territorial Brewing Company (also located in Battle Creek) and natural hops, spice and herb extract provider Kalsec, they are all participating by collecting and contributing material to this initiative.

According to a release from Bell's, this plan is based on a similar program developed by Great Divide Brewing Co. The grant money was used to purchase two balers. One baler provides a recycling outlet for bags made of woven polypropylene that is used for brewing grains, like barley, and other ingredients that come in large quantities.

“These bags, which also include super sacks (bulk bags that can hold up to 3,000 lbs.) are recyclable. The problem was that up until now, none of us had access to a viable recycling outlet for it. In order to make this material viable for a recycler, we needed to have truck loads of the stuff, which most breweries do not generate on their own, even here at Bell’s. We also needed equipment to bale all of it for transport." - Kate Martini, Bell’s Sustainability Specialist.

The second baler is for consolidating cardboard from all the participating partners. The release says "baling cardboard makes it eligible for a small rebate and the revenue from this material stream is used to sustain the program. It also has the added benefit of alleviating the need for partners to pay for their own small-scale cardboard recycling program."

Finished bales of material will be processed through a partnership with Padnos in Grand Rapids and their Kalamazoo partner AJ’s Recycling Services.

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