Steel Kegs: The Efficient, Sustainable Choice

Why should a restaurant care about sustainability?

Dan Vorlage: Operators’ first priority is making their business sustainable. That means making efficient use of finite resources like capital, labor and materials. Steel kegs are remarkably efficient through the beer supply chain because they deliver bulk beverages and are highly reusable. It’s added value that this efficiency also means kegs are environmentally sustainable.

You call steel kegs the “original reusable container.” Why?

DV: Reusability is a big deal. Millions of people are changing their behavior because of reusability. They now carry reusable steel water bottles because they know they’re eliminating single-use plastic bottles from waste streams and they’re also saving money. When you think about it, steel kegs work the same way for bar and restaurant operators…they eliminate 6 billion single-use containers from waste streams each year! When you factor in kegs’ 30+ year lifespan, kegs take reusability to the next level.

What benefits can a designer receive from a system based around steel kegs?

DV: The Steel Keg Association commissioned Deloitte to conduct an ISO-14040 framework Life Cycle Analysis. Based on this study, the average sports bar saves over 13,000 pounds of single use packages from landfill each year and reduces greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 5,000 kg of CO2 equivalents by focusing on draft beer from reusable steel kegs. When designing new concepts, especially if efficiency and sustainability are part of the assignment, they should design in plenty of draft lines.

Won’t this type of system be more expensive than just serving cans or bottles?

DV: It’s exciting that reusable kegs deliver both economic and sustainability advantages; a bar can do well financially while doing good for the planet! Deloitte has one of the most respected sustainability consulting practices in the world and they helped us understand that if something has a sustainability/carbon footprint advantage (which kegs have), it’s an indication of economic advantage. As an example, we hear from designers that the payback for installing draft lines is incredibly fast because draft delivers ~80% margins. Given the financial pressure bars and restaurants are under, the healthy economics reusable kegs deliver are more critical than ever.

Tell us about the Steel Keg Association.

DV: We’re a nonprofit marketing-focused organization, founded by the leading companies in the global keg supply chain, on a mission to grow the volume of beer and other beverages served from steel kegs. When we talk with decision-makers at bars and restaurants about the sustainability, efficiency and freshness benefits reusable steel kegs deliver, they have this “a-ha” moment: They see that reusable steel kegs have a more important role to play in their operations, helping them to achieve their economic and environmental sustainability goals. So we’re expanding our marketing efforts and providing resources on our website (activation tools like coasters and table tents) to help bars and restaurants tap into the full potential of steel kegs.

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