Your Shot: Colenso BBDO on Saving Beaches via Beer with DB Brewery
About a year and a half ago, Kiwi brewery DB encouraged its customers to drink more to save the world. Drinking beer might not seem like an obvious tree huggy thing to do, but the smart folks at DB and its agency Colenso BBDO had figured out a way to create a biofuel from the yeast left over after brewing DB Export - thus reducing carbon emissions.
DB and Colenso BBDO are back with another environment-saving initiative. The team at Colenso discovered that beach sand (desert sand is too fine) was used to make many of the things that power 21st century life - construction, medicine, credit cards, make-up - and is rapidly running out as a result. Given that crushed glass has the same properties as sand, they built a fleet of machines that let DB Export drinkers turn their empty bottles into a sand substitute. DB Export Beer Bottle Sand will then be supplied to construction companies and commercial partners, reducing New Zealand’s dependence on beach-derived sand. The potential for a wider roll-out globally is huge.
LBB’s Addison Capper chatted to Simon Vicars, Creative Group Head at Colenso BBDO, to find out more.
LBB> What kind of research led you to develop this technology? When did the sand issue come to your attention?
SV> We knew that crushed glass had the same properties as sand, and as we investigated that more we stumbled across the fact that the world was running out of sand. We read articles from the New York Times and watched an incredible documentary by Denis Delestrac called Sand Wars. That’s really when all the information we had on the table started to become an idea.
LBB> Talk us through some of the facts you uncovered.
SV> Sand is in absolutely everything. Credit cards, make up, drugs – your phone is just a handful of beach. That blew us away. The inability to use desert sand was also a tragic and fascinating twist. The black market for stolen sand is a billion dollar industry, and sand is the second most exploited resource on the planet (behind water).
LBB> Who did you work with on the development of the technology?
SV> Expleco are a New Zealand company doing great things in this space, and an invaluable partner to have. Roller Coaster Productions and our in-house producers worked like crazy people to refine the filtration and grading system. There were some real dead ends along the way, but together we got there.
LBB> How does it work?
SV> When the bottle is inserted into the machine a laser is triggered. This starts a wheel of small steel hammers spinning at 2800 rpm. As the bottle is pulverised a dual vacuum system extracts the plastic labels and silica dust. This grading and separation process takes only a couple of seconds. Bottle goes in, five seconds later DB Export Beer Bottle Sand comes out.
LBB> Do the bottles need to be made in a certain way for this to work or is it quite universal for glass bottles?
SV> It doesn’t matter how the bottle is made, so long as it’s glass and it fits in the machine. Bottles with paper labels are the machine’s nemesis because the filtration system can’t retrieve the shredded paper. All the more reason to empty a bottle of DB Export over our competitors.
LBB> Related to the question above, could this be rolled out around the world on a more general, un-branded level? It could be an incredible tool globally.
SV> Absolutely. The potential for a consumer-facing machine like this is huge. Some of the most beautiful places in the world are the most remote, which makes glass extraction very hard. In a lot of cases the glass is buried because the cost to extract it is so high. These machines could turn that waste into construction material and protect the area’s natural beauty. Right now recycling happens out of sight. You put your stuff in a bin and it gets taken away. That’s a big part of these machine’s appeal. The behavioural side of recycling. Using the machines is a hell of a lot of fun. You watch people, the entertainment that they get out of obliterating a bottle. Suddenly you add a whole new set of incentives to recycle.
LBB> Where are the machines placed for people to use and why?
SV> The machines will be located in bars and at events all over the country. They’re 300kgs and over two metres tall, but they’ve been designed to be easy to relocate.
LBB> DB is in the process of finalising a two-year deal to supply DB Export Beer Bottle Sand to Drymix, New Zealand's biggest producer of bagged concrete – does this mean the technology is here to stay? Will the rollout expand?
SV> Glass as a viable substitute for beach sand has always been impeded by two things: cost and reliability of supply. If the brewery can manage the costs around freightage and our drinkers can continue to give us a reliable supply of empty bottles, there’s no reason this can’t go long term.
LBB> How many different companies were involved in the development of this project?
SV> There were many. Too many to name because I’ll leave someone out and feel terrible. From Drymix and their concrete chemists to our brilliant film company partners at Finch.
LBB> What were the trickiest components and how did you overcome them?
SV> We didn’t want DB Export Beer Bottle Sand to be a novelty, we wanted it to be really useful and accepted by the industries that currently rely on beach sand. So we took our time strength testing our concrete blends with Drymix, doing real due diligence on the practical applications of the product. Separating the plastic labels in the crushing process also took some time (and a lot of empty bottles).
LBB> Any parting thoughts?
SV> We’re in the middle of nowhere into the 12th hour of a shoot. With animals. I need a beer. For the beaches, of course.
Genre: People , Strategy/Insight