State News

Bars, Restaurants to Recycle Liquor Bottles, Beer Cans

Posted January 1, 2008
Updated January 2, 2008

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— Under a new state law, all businesses in North Carolina that serve alcohol must recycle their glass bottles and aluminum cans.

The law, which took effect Tuesday, applies to all restaurants, bars and other businesses with an Alcoholic Beverage Control permit. Businesses are exempt for one year if there isn't a recycling market in their area.

"As the waitresses and bartenders close down at the end of the night, they'll separate the bottles. Real simple," said Erik Hodgeman, who manages a Raleigh bar. "Execution is going to be the most difficult thing – figuring out the ins and outs of how it's going to work – but overall I think it's a good idea."

Mark Center, a district supervisor for the state Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement, said recycling will be checked during routine, unannounced inspections. Failing to comply is a class one misdemeanor with a possible fine.

Wilmington is one of the cities most affected by the law. The 60 or so downtown bars and restaurants go through about 2 million bottles of beer and 140,000 bottles of liquor a year, which officials said amounts to between 10 tons and 12 tons of glass recyclables every week.

The latest state numbers show North Carolinians throw away enough glass each year to fill tractor-trailers that would stretch from Wilmington to Durham.

"We all need to look at (recycling) as a part of our daily life. It'll save us money," bar customer Ted Hurley said.


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  • thefensk Jan 3, 2008

    treet007 makes a good point, from a strictly manufacturing point of view. But the immense sorting and transportation and manufacturing problems associated with glass recycling makes it an expensive proposition and I think those also include a lot of extra energy usages that exist but are not easy to catalog.

    Most of the pro-recycling sites a simple google search will bring up are in the UK and Europe, which have established an infrastructure for such recycling. In the US, the market is nil. What do you have, a container for aluminun, a container for newspaper, a container for glass? How about a container for each different color of glass? At my recycling center it is all just dumped into one container. Some places recycle this into ... sand not glass.
    Here's a timely article from Canada:

    Note: "the positive environmental impact of the glass recycling program is negligible."

  • jse830fcnawa030klgmvnnaw+ Jan 2, 2008

    Recycling should be mandatory for all businesses. That way any overhead costs would be spread across these businesses, not just in one business sector. Recycling also makes fundamental ecological and environmental sense. To my understanding, recycling glass and cans uses LESS energy than to make from scratch. See:

    "Glass recycling uses less energy than manufacturing glass from sand, lime and soda."

    tmedlin and thefensk, please let me know on what basis do you make your statements that the cost of recycling is higher?

  • hollywoodbruce Jan 2, 2008


  • tmedlin Jan 2, 2008

    This will cost the bar owners more money, and therefore the price of our brews will go up...

  • Spirit Warrior BallReceptable Jan 2, 2008

    All these accusations of socialism is completely unwarranted and infantile.
    We live in a democratic, capitalist society. When capitalist entities are unwilling or unable to self-regulate (Corporate social responsibility) , then it is the government's responsibility to step in and do what's right.

    If none of you can see the obvious benefit of recycling bottles and cans then you are very very very very stupid.

    Case in point - if the house next to yours has been foreclosed on, what does that tell you about the neighborhood you live in? You live in a demographic with individuals that are too stupid to read the fine print on their mortgage documents. Go figure.

  • TheAdmiral Jan 2, 2008

    "Good point, because the socialist tag your throwin on Edwards is ignorant. If he practices what he promises, Wonderfull! At least he is speaking the truth."

    Edwards does not. If I am not mistaken - he preaches that he wants to raise taxes for programs to help the small percentage of lazy - only to build a multi-million dollar mansion in the peoples republic of socialists Orange County.

    He is one of the reasons of the mortgage mess. "We need to put a person in a home of their own," I am not mistaken was one of his rampant socialist policies he proclaimed. So the mortgage industry knowing that the dems would be in power starting handing out mortgages to people who were breathing with no other checks.

    BTW - the house next to me has been foreclosed on.

  • thefensk Jan 2, 2008

    Not surprising they have to pay to have the glass "recycled" ... from what I've heard glass costs more to recycle, especially in energy usage, than it costs to make new glass. Ecologically inert too.

    In fact glass costs so much to recycle, I wouldn't be surprised if most of the glass you "recycle" just ends up in the landfill anyway. For recycling to work, there has to be a market for the raw material: newspaper, aluminum, cardboard, they all pay for themselves. Glass? Don't know the answer to that one. It makes people feel good and you get them in the habit and maybe one day it will be viable so let's just keep doing it?

  • gpd Jan 2, 2008

    LOL! You mean this is just now happening? Lawd have mercy.

  • Go Georgia Tech Jan 2, 2008

    I am sure the positives of this move outweigh the negatives. The only thing I dont agree with is the fact the bar has to pay for the recycle service.. shouldnt they get paid something for sorting it out? The government adds no headcount to help this cause- but the bars will- or at least have to give hours to someone to do this task.. why not give some money for their troubles?

  • aoakley336 Jan 2, 2008

    Guys, why does have to be purely about politics? I don't think it should matter which party you support. I'm a Republican, it doesn't mean that I should support littering & wasting resources.