To save the planet, DB is turning beer bottles into sand

Our beaches are being destroyed as global demand for sand skyrockets. DB Breweries knows this, too - which is why it has launched an initiative to take empty beer bottles and turn the glass into sand.

DB Export has announced that it’s on a mission to help save Aotearoa and the world’s beaches by producing a human-made sand product. That’s right. Artificial sand. Made from beer bottles.

Known as DB Export Beer Bottle Sand, the product is designed to lessen some of the impacts inflicted on New Zealand beaches by sand dredging. Initially, the goal is to make 100 tonnes of sand substitute, which is the equivalent of more than half a million beer bottles.

Beach-dredged sand is a major component in roading, pathways, commercial and residential construction, pipelaying, at-home DIY projects, and even golf bunkers. Even more surprising, the average person uses 200 kilograms of sand a year through consumable products and the need for infrastructure (alternative fact: the average baby eats about 100 kilos of sand a year). Most of this sand is dredged. And, like many other natural resources such as crude oil and other fossil fuels, beach sand is non-renewable, and dredging causes a myriad of environmental impacts including the destruction of natural beaches and their ecosystems, increased costal erosion, damage to sea life habitats and a reduction in protection from weather patterns such as tsunamis and storm. About 27 percent of waste consumer glass is not recycled in New Zealand each year due to soiling or incorrect disposal, instead usually making its way to landfills. And here’s another grim stat: due to over-consumption and black market exploitation, two-thirds of the world’s beaches are retreating.  

DB Breweries marketing director Sean O’Donnell says the turning-beer-bottles-into-sand project may be ambitious, but it’s the right thing to do to help preserve the Land of the Long White Cloud’s natural beauty. “Our beautiful beaches are being dredged for its precious sand, which is used in many products and almost every construction project,” he says, adding he hopes DB’s sand substitute will have a positive impact. “We can’t solve the problem alone, but we knew we could do more to help. Our ambition is to help drive more recycling whilst looking out for the beaches which are an integral part of our Kiwi DNA. We’re proud to launch an initiative that can help us do our bit to protect our beaches for future generations.”

Two types of sand will be made. The first will be a pure sand made of finely crushed bottles with a particle size of between 0.4mm to 1.1mm, which can be used for golf bunkers, pipe bedding and sports field drainage, among other purposes. The second type is to be a sustainable concrete mixture solution made with DB Export’s project partner, DryMix (which is New Zealand’s largest bagged concrete producer). To help get the word out about the project, specially created DB Export Beer Bottle sand machines will visit cities throughout Aotearoa so people can crush their beer bottles and see the sand that is created for themselves.

The turning-beer-bottles-into-sand-to-save-beaches initiative isn’t DB’s first foray into environmental activism. In 2015, DB created the world’s first commercially available biofuel with Gull NZ. Known as “brewtroleum,” it was made from the waste product of the brewing process.

We’ll just have to see what kind of reception this latest initiative dredges up.