Pub customers, understandably, are more concerned about the disposal of the liquid than the glass element of the bottles of beer they’re drinking. But for the staff behind the bar all those empties are a nuisance – and a cost for the pub operator.
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Usually they’re thrown into bins which quickly fill up. On a busy night taking full bins out into the yard to empty into a wheelie bin frequently take staff away from serving customers. And the wheelie bin, too, soon fills up. Miss a collection and you’ve soon got a problem.
But now an Irish company has come up with a surprisingly simple solution. Last summer County Mayo-based PEL Recycling Equipment launched Baby Jaws, the world’s first under-the-counter bottle crusher.
Instead of chucking bottles into an open bin, barstaff feed them through a hole in the machine which crushes them on the spot.
Baby Jaws can break half-a-tonne of glass an hour and has a capacity of 18 kilograms, or around 80 bottles. When it’s full staff simply empty the hopper in the bottom.
It will typically reduce the volume of a pub’s bottle waste by 80%, according to Tommy Griffith, director of PEL, in turn cutting glass disposal bills by as much as 60%.
Griffith began manufacturing his first bottle crusher, the Mega Jaws, in 2005, and it’s now found at hotels and larger nightclubs and restaurants across Ireland. But it wasn’t economic for smaller businesses, so he came up with Baby Jaws which, at only 820mm tall and a footprint of 600mm by 600mm, will fit under any bar.
“It’s the first of its kind,” he says. “I’m not sure why nobody had thought of it before, but as a company we do take the trouble to talk to people about their needs and find ways to make things easier for them, to help them create a clean and tidy environment.
“Baby Jaws is based on the same technology as Mega Jaws, so it’s tested and reliable, and it reduces cost and space requirements because the bottles are crushed at source. It will keep a bar going all night without staff having to carry out bins.
“We’ve currently 150 units in the market, in Ireland but mainly in the UK. And we’re also in Holland, Australia and Spain. We’re keen to get into export markets – especially the US.”
In Ireland drinks distributor Gleeson Group has been instrumental in getting Baby Jaws into bars. Director Peter Cooney quickly saw the opportunity.
“I was looking for new ideas and when I saw Tommy’s machine I knew it would work for us. We have a large customer base of 7,000 pubs, bars and restaurants which we’re calling on anyway, so it’s easy for us to add the bottle crusher to what we’re selling to them.
“It’s starting to generate a real interest. What we’re doing is squeezing the air out of everything. There’s no mess and no contamination, which you can easily get when you’re using open bins behind the bar.
“One of our customers has reduced 10 bins of waste glass a week down to two bins, and it’s solved a real space issue for them.”
Gleeson offers a free trial and then will either rent out the machine for 50 euros a month plus VAT or sell it for 2,400 euros. It also offers a waste glass collection service.
One objection Cooney has had to counter is worry about noise from the crusher. “People expect it to be noisy, but it’s not at all. It’s 40 decibels against the 60 to 70 decibels typical background noise you’d get in an busy bar.”
Gleeson recycles the bottles itself, and according to Cooney, “the main advantage of crushed glass compared to whole bottles is that there’s no air to transport. This makes everything in the supply chain much more efficient.
“Technology has progressed, too, so that it’s no longer necessary to separate glass by colour as this is done by laser at the recycling plant.”
Porterhouse, which opened Ireland’s first brewpub in 1989, is rolling out Baby Jaws across its estate following a successful trial in its Dublin nightclub, Lily’s Bordello.
The under-bar glass crusher was installed there before Christmas, and operations manager Dave Morrissey describes himself as “a big fan”.
“Lily’s is the kind of bar that gets very busy very quickly, and because it’s on the first floor we had issues getting the bottle bins out and down the stairs, so it was a good place to try it.
“It’s very compact, about the same size as a glasswasher, and it crushes very quickly and quietly. If I’m making a strawberry daiquiri the blender makes much more noise!
“It’s robust, too. We haven’t has anything go wrong. I’m delighted with it.
“I haven’t done a cost analysis yet,” he adds. “But I’m sure it’s saving us money, if only on staff time and the need to sort bottles for recycling.”
Porterhouse already uses standard-sized bottle crushers at its four pubs in Dublin and Bray, County Wicklow, but will install Baby Jaws where it fits a need for something extra.