DB Export is a New Zealand-based brewery that has developed a machine that turns beer bottles into sand. The company hopes that this will help to save New Zealand’s beaches, which are being depleted of this very valuable resource.
The world is running out of sand. Demand for sand is skyrocketing (it is used in everything from construction to pharmaceuticals), and with unrestricted mining to meet this demand, shortages will follow.
Take Vietnam, as a case in point. Demand exceeds the country’s reserves. And if this discrepancy continues, Vietnam could run out of construction sand by 2020. In 2010, countries across the globe mined about 11 billion tonnes of sand for construction alone.
Sand is a key ingredient for concrete, roads, glass, and electronics, and is used for land reclamation and beach renourishment. Increased flooding, which requires construction, also increases the global demand for sand. Competition for sand has led to rampant violence, with organised criminal gangs illegally trading the diminishing resource.
Furthermore, the global overexploitation of sand has negative environmental effects, including alterations to rivers and coastal ecosystems. Mining operations threaten numerous animal species, including fish, dolphins, crustaceans, and crocodiles.
Sand mining can also impact people’s livelihoods. Beaches and wetlands help to protect coastal communities against sea surges. The increased erosion that results from extensive mining, therefore, can make these communities more vulnerable to floods.
A global strategy for sand governance is necessary. But DB Export is proving how commercial enterprises can be part of the solution too.
DB Export’s campaign to save New Zealand’s beaches
The brewery has built machines that can turn an empty beer bottle into a sand substitute in just five seconds. DB Export Beer Bottle Sand is then supplied to construction companies, which reduces the need to remove sand from New Zealand’s beaches.
As the bottle is inserted into the Beer Bottle Sand Machine, a laser triggers a wheel of small hammers that are spinning at 2800rpm. As the bottle is pulverised, a vacuum system removes silica dust and the plastic of the label, leaving behind 200 grams of sand substitute. Sean O’Donnell, Marketing Director at DB Breweries, said:
We can’t solve the problem alone but we knew we could do more to help. Our ambition is to help drive more recycling whilst looking out for the beaches which are an integral part of our Kiwi DNA. We’re proud to launch an initiative that can help us do our bit to protect our beaches for future generations.
In New Zealand, three out of every twelve beers sold end up in a landfill. DB Breweries’ Beer Bottle Sand project aims to keep recyclable glass out of landfills and to preserve the country’s beaches at the same time.
About the author: Sam Woolfe @samwoolfe
Sam is a freelance writer who is particularly interested in space exploration, sustainability, tech, and agriculture.