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Box your beer and save the planet

Kegless, invented by an Australian college student, has cost as well as environmental benefits.

April 14, 2010|By BY JASON GELT

Boxed alcoholic beverages tend to receive a gimlet eye from discerning drinkers. Wines purveyed from cardboard boxes go south quicker than their bottled brethren and often come from vintners with low marks from connoisseurs. But what about boxed beer? Why hasn't the populist sudsy brew, already an everyman's refreshment, entered the boxed beverage realm?

Because it's simply more difficult to keep carbonated beer pressurized and oxygen free in large, four-liter containers, according to Thomas Hussey, a recently graduated industrial design student from Australia's University of Technology Sydney. And since "Australians consume a lot of beer," says Hussey, it was a problem he readily devoted his design skills to. He knew that costly pony kegs were a poor long-term answer in an environmentally conscious world. So he developed Kegless, a workable solution to the boxed beer dilemma.

With a two-pronged focus on cost and environmental impact, Hussey's invention eschews pricier bottles, kegs and cans in favor of a revolutionary collapsible container that maintains the CO2 pressure while barring oxygen. And it's turned heads. Hussey is one of 14 finalists in the student category of the 2010 Australian Design Award and the Australian component of the James Dyson Award who will advance to the global competition.

"I wanted to reduce the environmental effects, but also reduce cost and provide a marketing benefit," says Hussey, who has already received interest from one of Australia's major beer producers. "It's all very well to come out with a product that has less environmental impact, but people need to want to buy it."

Chances are that won't be a problem. Who can argue with a well-balanced beer that maintains quality and freshness for up to a month, but is also easy on the planet?

jason.gelt@latimes.com

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