Beer bottle sand lores

[Image above] Lyn Mayes speaks on behalf of New Zealand-based Glass Packaging Forum about DB Breweries beer bottle sand project. Credit: DB Export Beer; YouTube 

A global sand shortage? Call me surprised!

But, it turns out that sand—usable sand—is a finite and dwindling resource.

The New York Times reported on the global sand shortage last June, saying, “Sand is the essential ingredient that makes modern life possible,” referring specifically to its use in concrete, fenestration and other glass, and asphalt.

According to the article, the 40 billion ton/year industry has an estimated value of about $70 billion.

But it comes with a heavy price.

The article mentions disrupted riverbed and coral ecosystems, torn up forests, disappearing beaches, and diesel fumes spewed from trucks transporting the stuff over longer distances. California, for example, estimated that doubling average transport distances from 25 to 50 miles would burn about 50 million more gallons of diesel.

Countries such as Cambodia, India, Vietnam, and coastal Africa feel the impacts as their agrarian and aquaculture industries suffer, and their citizens take wild risks to mine sand.

Mother Nature, too, gobbles up beach sand with every hurricane, and rising sea levels wash sand out to sea, where it doesn’t do much good. In Miami Beach, Fla., for example, engineers dredge sand from offshore and bring it back to the beach in an inverse Sisyphean exercise.

Restoring beaches is expensive. According to a report, Miami Beach spent more than $18 million in beach restoration in 2001—only to have hurricanes Sandy and Matthew wreak their havoc.

One company, DB Export beer company in New Zealand, offers a clever a solution, however—a machine that grinds empty beer bottles into fine-grained cullet suitable for replacing beautiful beach sand.

Credit: DB Export Beer; YouTube 

In a video, Lyn Mayes from the Glass Packaging Forum says 60,000 tons of glass goes to landfill every year. We also learn that each bottle yields 200 grams of beach sand substitute, which the company distributes back to construction companies to use in lieu of sand.

“Kiwis, we love our beaches and we love our beer,” says Sean O’Donnell of DB Breweries in the video. “So wouldn’t it be great if you could have a beer and do something for the environment? And that’s pretty exciting.”

I’ll do my part and lift a bottle! Send over one of those machines!