State News

Bars, Restaurants to Recycle Liquor Bottles, Beer Cans

Posted January 1, 2008 10:26 a.m. EST
Updated January 2, 2008 8:56 a.m. EST

— 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.