The Only Web Site Dedicated to Promoting Refillable Beverage Containers

Note: This site is now archived.

In the U.S. today, beverage containers are designed for a single use. Once used, two-thirds are landfilled. The remaining one-third are reprocessed and recycled into new products. Not too long ago, Americans had a more efficient way of handling used beverage containers — we refilled them. When compared to non-refilling systems, refilling systems contribute less to global warming, acid rain, smog, and solid waste. Refilling systems also use less energy and water. While many people believe that environmental gains come with economic sacrifices, refilling beverage containers does not involve such trade-offs. By reusing containers multiple times, refilling cuts the public costs of waste management, creates jobs, and can reduce the prices of beverages. Refilling can also cut costs for the beverage and the retail grocery industries. Yet, in spite of the many advantages of refilling, the beer and soft-drink industries in the U.S. have dismantled their refilling systems. While American soft-drink companies have replaced refillable glass bottles with single-use plastic bottles and aluminum cans in the U.S., they have been using state-of-the-art refillable containers in many European and Latin-American countries. Unlike the United States, these countries have policies that specifically require or promote refillable beverage containers or have economic incentives to use them. What environmental and economic benefits could refillable beverage containers bring to the U.S.? What policies effectively promote refillable beverage containers? Which ones can best be applied to the U.S.? This web site seeks to address these and other questions.

Refillables Report now available in pdf format here.

Table of Contents


With partial funding from the GrassRoots Recycling Network, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance researched and wrote these web pages about refillable beverage containers. Doug Rowe was the primary researcher and author. Brenda Platt was the project director. Thanks are due to many government, industry, and environmental professionals for providing information about refilling. INFORM, Inc., donated a copy of its book, Case Reopened: Reassessing Refillable Bottles, which provided valuable background information. Many of our contacts took time to answer our questions about refilling over the telephone or in writing. These persons include Darin MacKinnon of the Prince Edward Island Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Environment; Rundell Seaman, Chairman of Seaman’s Beverages in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Joanne Glynn of the New Brunswick Department of Environment and Local Government; Mary Ann Coleman of the New Brunswick Environmental Network; Mr. Yvon Millette, President of the Quebec Brewers Association; Usman Valiante of the Brewers of Ontario; Doug Macdonald, Ph.D., of the University of Toronto; Ed Gregory of the Brewers Association of Canada; Matthew Hein of the Beer Institute; Knud Loftlund of the Danish Soft Drinks Association; Greta Stridsman of the Swedish Brewers Association; and Thomas Hagbeck of the German Federal Environmental Agency. Additional thanks go to Mr. MacKinnon, Mr. Millette, Mr. Valiante, Mr. Hein, and Mr. Hagbeck for sending us complimentary materials which provided some very useful information.

Questions? Comments?

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance welcomes your feedback about this web site on refillable beverage containers. Send comments to Brenda Platt or write to her at the following address. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance 2425 18th Street NW Washington, DC 20009-2096 Tel.: 202-232-4108 Fax: 202-332-0463 *The slogan “Reduce, Reuse, Refill!” (with or without punctuation of any kind) is copyrighted by GRRN and ILSR for use on this website. Use of this slogan in any form – especially commercial use – must first be approved by GRRN and ILSR prior to its use. Thank you.