I feel a little bit guilty every time I hear the clunk of another empty beer bottle being dropped into the garbage can.

Although I will admit that my recycling habits have not always been consistent, I’ve always felt uneasy about throwing away glass bottles. I mean, it’s not like you would just chuck a juice glass after one use. Why should a glass bottle be any different?

The folks at Bayern Brewing feel the same way, which is why they recently invested $400,000 in the purchase of a German-made bottle washing machine, according to the Missoula Independent. By encouraging consumers to return empty bottles to the taproom, the company hopes to reduce the number of bottles that end up in the Missoula landfill.

Bayern has already introduced its new “ecopacks,” which feature special bottle carriers that will help streamline the recycling process.

To coax lazy beer-drinkers into participating, the brewery will offer 5 cents per bottle and 10 cents per carrier. It might not seem like much, but it could really add up for those of us who crack open a cold one on a regular basis. And with barbecue season getting underway, the new bottle-washing operation could save quite a few Hefty bags’ worth of beer bottles from going to waste.

Now, if someone would just start up a wine bottle-washing outfit…

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.