Bartenders at McHale's pub in downtown Rock Hill serve 50 to 60 bottles of beer on a typical night, a manager said. Empty containers are collected in trash bags and taken out to a garbage bin.
But the state could soon change how McHale's and other S.C. establishments dispose of beverage waste. A proposal would require bars and restaurants to come up with recycling plans when they apply for or renew alcohol licenses.
The plans for a small bar could be as simple as having a bin delivered to a recycling center once a week, a co-sponsor of the bill said.
McHale's manager Brandon Allen said the concept makes sense - but might prove difficult to put into practice in a cramped bar.
"Because we're so small, it's going to be a space issue," he said. "It's a cool idea. It'd take a lot of work, I think."
State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, a Camden Democrat, co-sponsored the legislation and said he wants less bar and restaurant waste in landfills.
There's a larger goal, Sheheen said.
"We want to create a market that the private sector can then capitalize on," said Sheheen, who made a gubernatorial campaign stop last year at McHale's (but did not have a drink).
South Carolina would be the nation's second state, after North Carolina, to require bars and restaurants to recycle aluminum, plastic and glass, said Richard Chesley, who runs the state Department of Health and Environmental Control's recycling efforts.
The city of Rock Hill offers free commercial recycling to customers who pay for commercial trash pickup. In addition, upon request, the city's environmental education specialist will visit businesses and offer advice on recycling practices.
A move toward recycling might not be so difficult, said Elizabeth Colquhoun, a kitchen manager at Fast Lane Good Times bar in Manchester Village.
"We already have all these other bins," she said. "It's just finding the space to do it."
Tom Sponseller, chief executive of the South Carolina Hospitality Association, said he isn't opposed to recycling. After all, the group has had a voluntary program in place for four years that promotes recycling, energy efficiency and the use of local produce.
But Sponseller said Sheheen's legislation ties a business license to recycling plans that depend on private recycling companies to greatly expand operations.
"There's no mandate on the recycling community to take all the business," Sponseller said.
That's a big problem for beer, wine and liquor bottles, Sponseller said.
Glass is a recycling challenge, Chesley said.
"It's heavy. It's difficult to move and there's not a lot of value in it," Chesley said. "There is a market. It is just going to be difficult to get it to market. It's going to cost them something."
Still, Chesley said, bars and restaurants already have to pay to haul glass off in the trash, so they could spend some of that instead on recycling.
Facilities in Charleston, Columbia, Conway and Greenville already accept glass and send it to plants in Georgia and North Carolina.
The Associated Press contributed.