You gotta hand it to New Zealanders (affectionately known as “Kiwis”). Their passion for saving the planet is only equaled by their passion for beer.
And now, they’ve figured out a way to combine their two passions.
In an effort to combat the global sand shortage, DB Breweries of New Zealand has built a fleet of machines that crush empty beer bottles into sand. In a matter of seconds.
That’s right. The world is running out of sand.
In fact, two-thirds of the world’s beaches are retreating. And sand regeneration can take hundreds of thousands of years.
The primary culprits? Exploitation and sand dredging.
Sand is used in more everyday products than you would imagine, and competition for this valued resource is fierce. (It was the subject of an award-winning documentary in 2013, called Sand Wars. See the movie trailer here.)
Businesses often collect beach sand in bulk. It’s a primary ingredient used in mortar, plaster, concrete and asphalt.
But not all sand is created equal. Desert sand (like the millions of tons that can be found in the Sahara) is very round and very fine. It doesn’t bind well, and therefore can’t be used in construction.
But beach sand has coarse, imperfect edges that bind easily, making it the perfect building material. And DB Export’s beer bottle sand has the same physical make-up as beach sand.
DB’s amazing machine crushes your empties into sand right before your giddy little eyes.
A laser is tripped the moment you place your empty into the machine’s bottle-shaped hole. That starts a wheel of small steel hammers spinning at 2800 rpm. A dual vacuum system then removes silica dust and plastic labels.
What’s left is 200 grams of pure glass sand. The entire process takes about five seconds, as demonstrated in DB’s promotional video:
DB’s beer bottle sand is already being tapped for distribution to commercial and residential construction companies, and for national road projects. The brewery is also finalizing a two-year deal with DryMix, New Zealand’s largest producer of bagged concrete.
But the sand could also be used to make more glass.
Glass is perhaps the only material that is 100% endlessly recyclable without loss in quality or purity. And restaurants and bars are a major contributor to recycled glass.
Take a look at how a used bottle is recycled into a new bottle:
New Zealanders have a global reputation for their environmentalism. Half their country has been deemed a national park. They’ve been known to throw themselves at whaling ships.
And DB’s 2015 “Brewtoleum” campaign successfully turned yeast left over from the brewing process into clean-burning, conflict-free biofuel.
So, in honor of our ever-resourceful neighbors to the extreme south, let’s all lift our glasses one more time!