Choki Wangmo 

Alcohol’s societal impacts are talked often but little, if any, consideration is given to environmental footprints of glass bottles. But not anymore.

Army Welfare Project (AWP) in collaboration with Greener Way started an initiative called “Every Bottle Back” to boost the collection of glass bottles manufactured by AWP. The initiative is expected to recycle glass bottles, reducing the amount of glass waste going into the landfill while reducing pressure on resources.

Globally, glass is widely accepted as a recyclable material, however, due to lack of initiatives in the country, most of the bottles end up in landfills.

Under the initiative, Greener Way would collect the bottles from AWP products and send it back to the project’s head office in Phuentsholing every month, which would then be recycled. According to the World Wildlife Fund’s website: “Glass produced from recycled glass reduces air pollution and water by 20 and 50 percent.”

Planning and strategy officer with Greener Way, Shristi Sharma said that the company aimed to send about two truckloads of bottles in a month. The first trip will be sent this week.

The initiative is part of AWP’s corporate social responsibility to encourage other companies to increase their effort and demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainable development and circular economy.

Shristi Sharma said that the companies were unwilling to come forward and work towards curbing their own wastes. “There is a need for the authorities concerned to develop strong buy-back policies.”

Meanwhile, Namgay Artisanal Brewery (NAB) in Paro had been working with Greener Way and Druk Waste Management to recycle bottles produced by the brewery since its inception in 2018.

NAB Managing Director, Dorji Gyeltshen said that the brewery bought the bottles from their customers for Nu 2 a bottle. The brewery recycled about 50,000 bottles so far.

In coming years, NAB plans to crush the broken glass bottles as there are no buyers for these kinds of bottles.

In other countries, the crushed broken pieces are sorted, cleaned and mixed with other raw materials like sand to make new bottles of different colours and sizes. There are also applications which turn waste glass into building materials, concrete and paving applications, in place of sand and other natural resources, according to WWF.

Currently, glass bottles are not segregated and are collected along with dry waste in the country.

According to the National Waste Management Strategy 2019, glass comprises 3.69 percent of the total municipal solid waste in urban areas.

A Ministry of Works and Human Settlement study reported that the glass mainly consisted of beer bottles, liquor bottles, and other beverage and juice bottles. Most of the glasses were either broken bottles or household utensils.

Last week in the National Council session, while presenting on the previous  session resolutions, the chairperson of good governance committee for NC, Lhatu, said that out of 13 recommendations proposed on reducing harmful use of alcohol, there were no response from the government on four proposals. 

One of the recommendations was enforcing corporate social responsibility measures on alcohol industries. NC proposed that there should be an important policy measure by the government, however there should be cautionary measures so that alcohol dealer and industries do not take the opportunity to promote their products.