Conscious Container

Conscious Container banner image. Save empty craft beer bottles. Donate to a collection partner location. Bottles are cleaned and refilled. This leads to a lower carbon footprint, less water use, and less energy.

Conscious Container is a benefit corporation start-up located in Truckee, California that is bringing refillable glass bottles back into the infrastructure and economy of the United States. Caren McNamara, founder of Conscious Container, started the business because she was frustrated with how durable glass bottles are so frequently tossed in the trash or recycling. This encouraged her to start Conscious Container.

“Our business is building refillable glass bottle collection programs and bottle washing operations starting in the beer/wine and beverage industries,” McNamara explained. “We launched successful proof-of-concept glass bottle collection pilots in northern Nevada and northern California and are now raising capital to expand these collection programs, launch refillable bottles as a sustainable packaging option, and start up a refillable bottle washing operation.”

Conscious Container’s first glass bottle collection pilot collected over 24,000 craft beer bottles with 17,000 of those picked up by a craft brewer for washing and refilling. The remaining bottles were deposited directly into a glass recycling system. This means that all of these bottles were able to stay out of the landfill and be used to their full potential as a durable beverage container.

McNamara partners with the Great Basin Brewery to provide glass bottle collection.
McNamara partners with the Great Basin Brewing Company to provide glass bottle collection.

Currently, Conscious Container practices sustainability by using reusable cases to transport bottles for washing, recycling any cardboard and non-refillable glass they produce, and purchasing used crates for their bottle collection locations. By implementing small actions of sustainability, McNamara hopes to work toward bigger sustainability goals. She plans to establish measurable initiatives throughout their business operations for things like water conservation, local sourcing of products and materials, and using renewable energy when available.

A reusable box full of empty glass bottles
A reusable box full of empty glass bottles for repurposing.

McNamara’s advice for businesses trying to implement sustainability into their practices is to use the resources and tools that other corporations and businesses have been using in their daily operations. By looking through the metrics and impacts of sustainable alternatives, its possible to see how many incentives there are for switching to more environmentally-friendly alternatives for various business practices. As for individuals, McNamara recommends starting with the simple stuff: switching from a plastic water bottle to a reusable one and bringing your own grocery bags to the store.

“Setting sustainability goals does take a bit of effort, but after time these new systems or activities become second nature,” she mused.

McNamara hopes to continue to receive the engagement and encouragement from various businesses, policymakers, and the general public that has motivated her to continue moving forward with this venture.

“The recognition of the critical nature of our single use waste challenges and the clear and positive sustainable impacts of refillables has been amazing.”

Learn more about Conscious Container online.

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