Giving single-use malt bags a longer life as brewery merch.

Giving single-use malt bags a longer life as brewery merch.

Tired of throwing away your spent malt bags? Looking for the best brewery merch? You’re not alone. We’ve got a unique solution that allows you to boast of your upcycling and output a profitable, customized beer tote. 

Born out of Raleigh-based consumer upcycling company Reborn Closet, Beer to Bags is the answer to an unnecessary problem of waste in the brewing industry. Products made of Polypropylene, like malt bags, degrade slowly in landfills and can take 20-30 years to decompose

The way the bags are manufactured make them difficult to recycle, often with multiple liners and layers of polypropylene. Some breweries have joined forces to get to enough volume of grain bags to sell to a downstream recycler who will feed the bags into an extruder, melt it at extremely high heats and form it into pellets. 

There are a few unfortunate problems with this. Whether any recycler wants more plastic at this point and whether the logistics and financials can work out to make sense is not a guaranteed solution. It also reinforces the idea that products are only usable once, and recycling processes use intensive energy and resources. 

Enter upcycling. When possible, upcycling is better than recycling because rather than using more energy and resources to break down a product into a lesser material, it preserves the original value of the material in a higher value form. Our example – we’re taking packaging worth a few cents and turning it into a product of $20+ retail value. 

It also adds another layer of sustainability by preventing the use of additional water, energy and resources to create virgin materials for a new product - we don’t need to produce more new totes when we have the materials already in the economy to make them. Plus, it provides a unique storytelling opportunity that is relatable to individuals and allows them to be involved.

We first started upcycling malt bags in 2021 when Raleigh Brewing in Raleigh, NC, reached out to us about their problem of throwing away spent grain bags. What we thought was unique to one local brewery turned out to be a widespread problem for virtually all breweries, a growing number, across the globe. 

While we’ve worked with all kinds of textile waste before, this was an interesting problem. Aside from the different and colorful malt supplier artwork printed on the bags, this stream of waste was consistent and regular – something unheard of for post-consumer textile waste, i.e. clothing in all sizes and materials. No, these 50-55 lb malt bags were all the same and the supply was there, with thousands of breweries receiving and processing malt, and having no true solution to its packaging byproduct. 

We were off to the races. The past couple of years we’ve steadily been improving our supply chain and product design to be able to effectively put to use the brewing industry’s trash. Durable, cleaned malt bags make the perfect reusable tote bag. What was a single-use plastic is now getting a life extension of at least five years and countless uses. 

If you’re looking for unique brewery merch for your taproom, a thank you gift to your hardworking brewery crew, promo for your next event, or just a consistent, reliable way to convert your spent malt bags, look no further – Beer to Bags is here and ready to work with you. 

Together this “problem” of grain waste becomes an opportunity. Cheers to that!

I'm ready to join the upcycling movement!
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