Bottle Drive Success

Today we gathered after school to collect, sort, and return all sorts of alcohol bottles to the local Beer Stores.

bottle driveThis is the second time we’ve done a bottle drive fundraiser, and we’re probably going to do a few each  year.  Part of our success is due to the fact that we live in a university/college town, and a strategically placed-post Hallowe’en collection date-allowed for a successful door to door campaign.


Bottles and cans bring in between 5 and 20 cents a piece, but when collected by the truck load this can translate into $500 or more in an afternoon.  This year we had one student house alone donate 5 garbage bags full!  They were very considerate and had them packaged at the side of the road with our flyer attached.

We all ended up sticky and smelly after sorting through so many bottles and cans.  Some items were hard to sort!  Here are the largest cans we found…


Some of the bottles were really interesting–strange shapes and colours of glass.  Others had interesting labels or names.

Girl's Night Out

"Girl's Night Out"??

One house donated their olive oil bottles!  Too bad they can’t be returned for money.

We want to thank everyone that helped make today such a success.  Thanks to all those who collected, sorted….


….and drove carloads of bottles to be returned.

trunk full

The grand total for our efforts today was $538

For our own future planning purposes, and to help out anyone else out there, here’s a little guide to bottle drives.  Feel free to add any useful pointers as comments.

K-Botics Guide to Bottle Drives

Planning and Preparation (Weeks before)

  1. Choose a convenient date.  Consider the following:  blue box schedules, availability of collectors/drivers, likely parties, weather conditions
  2. Choose a convenient time when people are likely to be home to give bottles.
  3. Obtain permission to hold collection at your desired location (we use our school’s parking lot, but we need permission from the school to do this)
  4. Determine the collection area (we chose neighbourhoods around the university and college targeting student housing), and we had a bottle drop off station at our home base (the school parking lot)
  5. Get the word out: put flyers in mailboxes in the collection area the week before the collection, put posters on phone poles, send out emails, make a facebook event, tweet about it, get parents of team members to publicize at work etc.
  6. Arrange drivers who don’t mind filling their trunks/truck beds/cars with bottles and cans.  Note:  if drivers are going to be driving participants, obtain permission forms from all students to be transported by volunteer drivers, and obtain necessary paperwork and proof of insurance from volunteer drivers.  One vehicle could be designated as the Beer Store delivery vehicle.
  7. Plan your routes: print out maps of the region and assign streets to various collectors.  Prepare one map for each driver.
  8. Contact Beer Store for bottle/can sorting criteria.  Print out criteria for sorting station

Preparation (Days before)

  1. Notify Beer Store of bottle drive, and ask which facility bottles should be returned to.
  2. Ask at Beer Store for boxes to return empties (they come flat)
  3. Collect needed materials: garbage bags for collection, large clear garbage bags for returning cans, gloves for sorters, boxes, paper and marker, money collection envelope
  4. Remind collectors/sorters/drivers of the event
  5. Remind people of the drop off station (email teachers etc)

Day Of Event

  1. Use sidewalk chalk to promote event in collection area
  2. Prepare sorting station: Post sorting criteria on the wall, find a garbage can and blue box for all non alcohol bottle/cans.  Designate a cardboard box for any broken glass.  Hand sanitizer is a great addition to any sorting station.
  3. Divide participants into sorting and collection teams.  Each collection team should have an adult/driver and vehicle to load up.  Make note of who is in each group-leave a master list at the collection station.  Note: only 3 or 4 sorters are needed.  Most of the people involved should be collectors.  Collectors should always go in groups of 2 so nobody gets lost!
  4. Collectors need garbage bags and cardboard boxes/bins.
  5. Give each driver a map so they know which streets to cover.
  6. Collectors should bring back their first car load to the sorting station quickly so sorters have something to sort.

The General Process

  • Collectors fill up vehicles
  • drivers bring vehicles to the sorting station
  • sorters unload vehicles and sort bottles/cans
  • sorted materials are prepared to be taken to the Beer Store (the “Beer Store Delivery Vehicle” is loaded with sorted materials)
  • Bottles are returned, money is brought back to the adult in charge at the sorting station, and the process continues.

Sorting Criteria from the Kingston Beer Stores

  • Kegs: worth a lot of money, good luck convincing anyone to give them up!
  • Cans: alcohol cans only, crushed (to save space), counted, in clear bags.  We found that a large bag could hold 200 cans.  We put a large piece of paper with the number of cans printed on it just inside the bag.
  • Wine bottles: sorted by colour of glass (green, clear, brown, other)
  • Beer bottles: brown glass, green glass, clear glass, with specialty bottles separated (Sleemans, Corona, Steamwhistle)
  • Small alcohol bottles (eg. coolers): sorted by colour of glass–note: these are NOT beer bottles.
  • Large alcohol bottles: sorted by colour of glass (green, clear, brown, other)
  • Plastic bottles (in clear bags, counted)
  • Tetras (in clear bags, counted)

After The Event

  1. Thank all participants, specially the drivers.
  2. Collect and count all money
  3. Clean up sorting station
  4. Take down any posters
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