Dozens of high-profile breweries around the country, including Garage Project, Parrotdog and Emerson’s, are today launching a scheme that provides customers with free, returnable, 1-litre glass flagons for takeaway beer purchased at taprooms and filleries.
Backed by government funding, the new system is enabled by sustainable packaging technology company Again Again.
The premise is simple, if you go into one of the 36 participating venues, which include breweries, taprooms, bottle shops and filleries, you can use an app to rent a flagon, fill it, take it home and drink it.
As long as the flagon is returned on time, or reused, you won’t get charged. In that sense, it’s a bit like borrowing a library book.
Eddie Gapper of Altitude Brewing in Queenstown is a big fan of the scheme.
“The cause is absolutely worth it,” he says. “We’ve always been keen on returnable systems, that circular model, and we’ve always filled containers in the taproom.
“What intrigued us about this scheme is that it had the support of so many big industry players — and we wanted to be part of a broader scheme to drive awareness and talk up the value of this.”
Gapper said the scheme was great for people who either forget to bring their own bottles to the taproom, or make a spur of the moment decision to take home some beer after visiting a taproom.
“Not everytone remembers to bring a container with them. It’s like shopping bags, you always have to remember to have one with you.”
But unlike supermarkets where those who forget a bag need to buy one, this system is free.
“It’s a no cost, low barrier operation. For us, it means we can do more volume through our taps.”
Gapper said the scheme was also great for breweries like Altitude that were located outside big cities. If they were to order their own branded bottles, the cost of getting them to Queenstown would be prohibitive.
“Where we are, in Queenstown, the cost of landing goods on our doorstep is huge. We could order in bulk but then we’re left with the issue of finding, and paying, for storage.
“Having a provider give us what we need for free is a major bonus.
“Operationally it’s very easy. Yes, you need to download an app, but it’s 2023 and using an app is not much to ask.”
He said the bottles they lend out are cleaned to a high standard on site — “cleaned to a higher level than you can achieve at home” — which means customers always will get the best beer experience.
That said, you can still bring your own container to one of the participating venues. “It’s not exclusive or market reducing,” he said.
“I am legitimately excited to be part of this — it’s the start of something that will become the norm and it’s up to us to make it totally natural.”
Glengarry, Fine Wine Delivery, Monkfish and Fridge & Flagon are other outlets that have signed up to drive the initiative.
Again Again CEO Nada Piatek expected the scheme to grow once others saw what was possible.
“By partnering with pioneering breweries across the country, we will demonstrate that reusable packaging is not only a more sustainable choice, it’s actually the right choice for discerning people who care about quality in life’s little details. Why put up with a side-dish of waste, when now you don’t have to?
“The framework opens the door to packaging innovation for the whole category, as well as other consumer goods categories, by proving reusable packaging can be a simple, practical, beautiful and cost-neutral experience for consumers and businesses alike.”
Piatek said one-third of all plastic waste is generated from single-use packaging, such as plastic riggers. Traditional glass and can recycling methods are both energy-intensive and expensive, and global regulations on packaging waste are on the horizon, so reuseable glass makes environmental sense.
The scheme is co-funded by the Ministry for the Environment’s Plastics Innovation Fund Te Tahua Pūtea mō te Kirihou Auaha.
If an outlet needs more flagons because too many customers forget to return them, Again Again replaces them at no additional expense. Consumers who retain a flagon (and pay for it) can keep it as their own.
Garage Project Aro Valley
Waitoa Victoria Street
Tuatara Taproom Kapiti
Baylands Lower Hutt
Garage Project Kingsland
Fridge & Flagon, Beer Jerk Kingsland
Churlys (Behemoth) Kingsland
Browns Bay Brewing Browns Bay
Fine Wine Delivery Takapuna
Glengarry Victoria Park
Glengarry Grey Lynn
Glengarry Kyber Pass
8 Wired Matakana
REST OF AOTEAROA
Cider Factorie Tauranga
Mount Brew Co (Superliquor) Tauranga
Roguehop Speakeasy Napier
Brave Brewing Hastings
Beehave! Craft Meadery Taupō
Brew Union Brewing Co Palmerston North
Two Thumb Christchurch
Steamer Basin Dunedin
Rudd House Brewing Dunedin
Altitude Brewing Queenstown
Ground Up Brewing Wanaka
Wanaka Beerworks Wanaka