According to a story in the Missoula Independent, Bayern Brewing needs about 50,000 of your used beer bottles a week in order to make its $400,000 investment in a German bottle washing machine pay off.
According to Bayern Brewing's owner, Jurgen Knoller, an estimated 2.5 million Bayern beer bottles end up in Missoula's landfill each year. This, with the fact that a beer bottle can be reused by a brewery 8-10 times, compounded yet again by the fact that Missoula does not offer many opportunities to recycle/reuse glass (aside from taking them to Target to be trucked to Washington), prompted Knoller to make this happen.
Here's how it works. Craft beer drinkers in and around Missoula buy a Bayern Ecopack, a waxed cardboard box that holds 25 beer bottles in their six-pack holders, and once filled they bring it back to the brewery for an empty Ecopak. Bayern pays you $.05/bottle and $.10/carrier (for a total of $1.60). The beer bottles that can't be used are ones with designs or logos on the beer bottles themselves. For example, a Rogue beer bottle (most are 22 oz. anyway) with the logo silkscreened on or a New Belgium beer bottle with a raised logo on the bottleneck. Also, the six-pack holders Bayern needs are Bayern ones, not ones from another brewery. Logical, right.
The whole system should be in place by June 2012.