Goa-based Sensible Earth launches ‘Beer Bottle Project’ in a bid to keep beaches clean

Goa-based Sensible Earth launches ‘Beer Bottle Project’ in a bid to keep beaches clean

Goa-based organisation, Sensible Earth, creates a new cleaning module by giving second life to beer bottles

Goa-based centre of sustainability, Sensible Earth has launched a new initiative to reduce one-time usage of beer bottles. Named as the 'Beer Bottle Project', the scheme aims to clean the state beaches, while creating a cleaning module by incentivising waste pickers and tourists in a bid to limit the litter. The centre is further collaborating with local beer companies to reuse their own bottles, giving them a second life, to put an end to avoidable litter.

A step towards cleaner Goa

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The Goan coastline is rather famous for selling beer cheaper than water, where nearly 40 lakh beer bottles are pushed out every month by three major beer bottling facilities in Goa for tipplers to relish, while the system is open-ended with no disposal system. The absence of a recycling market further results in lakhs of spent beer bottles has resulted in pint and large beer bottles lying strewn across its pristine beaches.

A solution in this regard, the 'Beer Bottle Project' by Sensible Earth will help clean popular tourist sites, riverside picnic spots, roads and the countryside effectively. "We started the 'Beer Bottle Project' because we realised that beer bottles are becoming a huge problem, because people have started using glass as a single-use object, like they do with plastic. Glass actually takes much much longer, a million years, to degrade as compared to plastic which can take around 400 years," said Jerusha D'Souza, spokesperson for Sensible Earth.

"So, actually from what we understand, there seems to be a space issue. Big companies still take their bottles back, but retail outlets are still not keen on doing it because they do not have the space to store empty bottles. Glass is expensive to transport, so even the transportation of bottles back and forth is becoming an issue. Manufacturing new bottles is cheaper than recycling old bottles," she added.

The idea behind 'Beer Bottle Project'

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When asked what was the obvious trigger for coming up with the 'Beer Bottle Project', D'Souza said, "We realised that wherever we go, whether it is trekking up a hill or going to a beach or going for a picnic somewhere, there are beer bottles strewn around and there is nothing being done about it". The government too has actively deployed private agencies but they fall weak in form of the millions of beer bottles hitting the market every year. The feat though simple is not easy to achieve.

Recent studies have pointed out that about 29% tourist population in Goa prefers sipping n beers during beach holidays. The menace created thus, is not easy to get rid of. The popularity of beers in the state has led to litter on a monumental scale, where the feasibility of logistics fails to recycle used beer bottles.

"Right now what we want to do is get in touch with some of the local companies and figure out solutions around the issue, like where we can collect the bottles, maybe we can wash the bottles at a particular centre. This is still in the early stages. And hopefully, we can bring about policy change at some point," she said.

What's the solution?

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Beer bottle deposits were once a thing in Goa. On the retail sale of beer, customers got ₹3 in return for turning back an empty bottle to the shopkeepers. The practice limited the litter across the coastline, however, was stopped as it proved cumbersome for retailers to stock empty bottles than fresh stock.

"The best thing would be to bring back the deposit, in a way that it makes sense to all parties involved. People should be able to give back their bottles and be paid for them, thus incentivizing customers. We would like to put the onus on the customer and making them aware that the bottle they are using is worth something," she said.

The manufacturing of a glass bottle uses a large amount of energy and when they are just discarded after single-use, that only adds to the resource footprint which is unfortunate, the spokesperson said. "We want to sort of convey that this can be a two-pronged practice, which makes it feasible for waste-pickers to collect bottles at a better price, it just works for them as well as for the government because the beaches will be cleaner," she concluded.

- with agency inputs

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