Beer bottle sand could save New Zealand’s beaches
If you hadn’t noticed, New Zealanders really give a damn about the environment. They care for their rivers and lakes, half the country’s a national park and they throw themselves at whaling ships on a daily basis. They do environmentalism well, and now they do it even better.
To help combat the global sand shortage (the world’s running out of sand, fyi), New Zealand brewer DB Breweries has designed some very cool machines. Each machine lets drinkers instantly turn their empty beer bottles into sand. The beer bottle sand is then distributed to construction companies, concrete manufacturers and anyone else who needs it, reducing the country’s dependence on coastally dredged sand.
Now, to save their beaches, Kiwis just have to empty a bottle of beer. “Honey, we’re moving to New Zealand!”
Wait, the world’s running out of sand?
It may seem like there’s an endless supply of sand in the world — especially when you’re cleaning out the pockets of your swimsuit — but the world is actually running out of this all-important natural resource.
Two-thirds of the world’s beaches are retreating and it can take hundreds of thousands of years for a beach to regenerate its sand. Exploitation and sand dredging are two of the main culprits. How’s anyone supposed to relax on the beach when there is no beach to speak of?
The problem is, sand is a fought-over resource that goes into way more everyday products than you think. This is what’s leading to depletion and why DB Export is looking to create a sustainable alternative.
You know that microchip in your computer that enables you to spend hours browsing Reddit? There is likely to be sand in that. How about the concrete that makes up the foundation of your favourite coffee shop? There’s sand in that, too. Sand, baby, sand!
The problem with finding sand as a raw material is that not all sand is created equal. There’s no shortage of sand in the Sahara, but desert sand is too fine and the granules are too round to bind together to be effectively used in construction. DB Export Beer Bottle Sand shares the same physical make-up of beach sand. Its coarse, imperfect edges mean it can bind easily, making for a perfect building material.
With this new sand at their disposal, DB Export hopes to lessen the impact by providing an alternative to sand dredging and culling material from New Zealand’s beaches, and the hope is that beach regeneration continues uninterrupted.
So where does DB Export Beer Bottle Sand go? Where doesn’t it go would be a better question. As well as working with New Zealand’s biggest bagged concrete producer, beer bottle sand will be distributed to construction companies, national roading projects, pathways and cycleways. Glass sand is completely safe to handle and walk on — which is why it can be used as mulch, in golf bunkers and in water filtration.
Bottle to sand in five seconds
Picture this: You take your last sip of beer and leave the bottle on the bar. OK, now what?
Put your empty bottle into the machine and a laser is tripped, starting a wheel of small steel hammers spinning at 2800rpm. As the bottle is pulverised a dual vacuum system removes silica dust and plastic labels, leaving behind 200 grams of sand substitute. Then, the freshly-ground sand may be used by whomever needs it and your job is done.
Crushing beer bottles takes on a new meaning
Kiwis should rejoice to be from a country that’s proactive in its mission to save the earth. In the next two years, the Glass Packaging Forum is looking for ways to raise the glass-recycling rate from 73 percent to 78 percent. When you compare this to the 50 percent recycling rate from 2005, it’s clear that New Zealanders know what they’re doing in this area. Give yourself a high five, New Zealand – your passion for saving for the earth is on par with your passion for beer.
This isn’t DB Export’s first foray into eco-friendly initiatives either: In 2015, the company produced 300,000 litres of something called Brewtroleum — a biofuel made from beer.
Brewtroleum is made from the leftover “yeast slurry” from brewing that’s typically thrown out or given to animals. While it’s not a revolutionary product, Brewtroleum is made from 100% beer by-product and was sold as a greener alternative to petroleum. In the last two years, DB Export rolled out this biofuel across 60 Gull gas stations in New Zealand
With their Beer Bottle Sand machines, DB Export aims to raise awareness of the global sand shortage and the importance of recycling. Plus, if we all get to drain a bottle in the process of saving the earth, it becomes a win-win. Drink a beer, make some sand, save the beaches, repeat. Now that’s environmentalism!