An island brewery is unveiling new technology that will cut back on plastic waste by hundreds of kilograms per year.
Phillips Brewing & Malting Co. is using ink jet technology to print labels directly onto beer cans.
The printer uses quick-drying ink, spraying each can with one colour at a time until the design is complete.
Phillips estimates the new process will save about a million labels per year, or 1,800 kilograms (4,000 pounds) of plastic waste.
“Offsetting plastic has been one of our major focuses on our sustainability goals and we’re really excited to be offsetting that, which is one of the major sources of plastic for us,” said Phillips Brewing founder Matt Phillips.
The printed cans can be recycled more easily, and the process is cheaper than printing on plastic. Traditional can manufacturers would also require the brewing company to place enormous minimum orders.
“The minimum that a can plant will run for you is a trailer load, which is far more than many of the small brands that we do would accommodate,” said Phillips.
“Also there’s a cost advantage to printing our own cans, and there’s also flexibility in terms of not having long lead times and not having to carry bigger inventory, so it really has a number of benefits for the brewery.”
The first batch of printed cans to hit store shelves will be the Green Reaper Fresh Hop IPA, which is an annual tradition for the brewery.
“We take fresh hops directly off the vine and make beer from them, so it kind of makes sense to have fresh cans and fresh hops together,” said Phillips.
Eventually Phillips hopes to share the technology with other breweries, for better environmentally sustainable practices.