New Belgium Brewing has set the standard for ethical and sustainable brewing practices for more than three decades. Founded in 1991 by a couple inspired by their bike trip through Belgium, the company has grown into one of America's largest and fastest-growing craft breweries. But beyond their success in the industry, New Belgium Brewing is known for their commitment to being a responsible and sustainable business that puts people and the planet first.
One of the core values that drives New Belgium Brewing is their commitment to sustainability. The company has taken significant steps to reduce their environmental impact, including investing in renewable energy sources such as wind power, using eco-friendly packaging, and implementing a zero-waste program that includes composting and recycling. They have also set ambitious goals for reducing their carbon footprint, aiming to make all their beers carbon neutral by 2030.
In addition to their operational sustainability efforts, New Belgium Brewing prioritizes sourcing high-quality, sustainable ingredients for their beers. The company partners with local farmers to source organic hops and barley, reducing the carbon footprint of their supply chain and supporting local agriculture.
New Belgium Brewing's focus on sustainability is just one aspect of their commitment to social responsibility. The company is dedicated to creating a culture of respect and inclusion for their employees, which is evident in their efforts to promote employee well-being and fair wages. They offer 100% paid health insurance premiums for all employees and have implemented a total financial transparency policy to ensure that employees understand the company's finances and are fairly compensated.
Beyond their commitment to their employees, New Belgium Brewing is also involved in a range of social and environmental causes, including climate action, LGBTQ+ rights, and diversity and inclusion. As a certified B Corp, the company is held to high standards of social and environmental accountability, and is committed to promoting positive change in the communities where they operate.
Community Engagement New Belgium
Brewing's dedication to sustainability and social responsibility extends beyond their own operations to their communities. The company is committed to promoting positive social and economic impact in the regions where they operate and has a long history of supporting local organizations and charitable causes. They also offer grants and programs to support community initiatives that align with their values.
As a leader in ethical and sustainable brewing practices, New Belgium Brewing is setting an example for other companies in the industry. Their commitment to sustainability, social responsibility, and community engagement is evident in every aspect of their business, from sourcing ingredients to engaging with local organizations. By prioritizing people and the planet over profits, New Belgium Brewing has demonstrated that it's possible to be successful while also doing good in the world.
Breweries Going Green: Steps and Challenges in Becoming More Sustainable
The brewing industry has always had a significant impact on the environment due to its high energy and water consumption, waste generation, and reliance on packaging materials. As consumers become increasingly aware of the importance of sustainability, breweries are under pressure to reduce their environmental footprint and operate more sustainably. This article will discuss the challenges breweries face when trying to be sustainable and the steps they can take to become more environmentally responsible.
Challenges Breweries Face
Brewing beer requires a significant amount of water, from cleaning tanks and equipment to brewing and fermentation processes. This high level of water usage can strain local water resources, especially in areas where water is scarce. Furthermore, wastewater produced during the brewing process can contain high levels of organic matter and nutrients, negatively impacting local water quality.
The brewing process also requires a lot of energy, from heating and cooling the beer to powering equipment. This high level of energy consumption contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, which can have negative impacts on the environment. Additionally, using non-renewable energy sources such as fossil fuels contributes to climate change and other environmental issues.
Brewing generates significant waste, including spent grains, hops, and yeast. These waste materials can create environmental problems if not managed properly. For example, spent grains can emit methane when decomposing in landfills, a potent greenhouse gas. Furthermore, packaging materials such as cans and bottles create additional waste and can take up valuable space in landfills.
Beer packaging is a significant source of waste, especially when using single-use containers such as cans and bottles. These containers can take hundreds of years to decompose, and their production requires significant amounts of energy and resources. Additionally, transporting packaging materials from suppliers to breweries can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.
Breweries rely on a complex supply chain to obtain the ingredients they need to brew their beer. This complex network of suppliers, distributors, and retailers can make it challenging to ensure sustainability at every stage of the process. Sourcing sustainable ingredients, reducing transportation emissions, and working with suppliers to prioritize sustainability can all pose significant challenges.
Steps to Becoming More Sustainable
Breweries can reduce their water usage by implementing water-saving technologies such as low-flow faucets and toilets, recycling water, and using waterless cleaning solutions. Water recycling systems can capture and treat wastewater, reducing the amount of water needed for brewing and cleaning.
Breweries can reduce their energy consumption by using energy-efficient brewing equipment, investing in renewable energy sources like solar or wind power, and implementing energy-saving practices like turning off lights and equipment when not in use. Heat recovery systems can capture waste heat generated during the brewing process and repurpose it to heat water or other parts of the brewery.
Sustainable ingredient sourcing
Breweries can work with suppliers who prioritize sustainable sourcing practices and use local, organic ingredients when possible. They can also explore alternative ingredients with a lower environmental impact, such as using alternative grains or hop varieties.
Breweries can reduce their waste by implementing recycling programs, donating spent grains to local farms, and using compostable packaging materials. Repurposing or upcycling waste materials, such as using spent grain to make dog treats or using leftover hops to make soap, can further reduce waste.
Breweries can use more sustainable packaging options such as refillable bottles, cans made from recycled materials, or biodegradable packaging. They can also encourage customers to bring their own refillable growlers or reusable cups to reduce single-use packaging waste.
Investing in renewable energy
Breweries can invest in renewable energy sources like solar or wind power to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and lower their carbon footprint. These renewable energy sources can help breweries become more self-sufficient and reduce their dependence on traditional energy sources.
Supporting sustainable practices
Breweries can support sustainable practices by partnering with local organizations and initiatives that promote sustainability, such as community composting programs or clean energy campaigns. They can also educate their customers about sustainability and encourage them to make more sustainable choices.
Breweries can educate their customers about sustainability and encourage them to make more sustainable choices. For example, they can promote the use of refillable growlers or reusable cups, offer discounts to customers who bring their own containers, and use social media to raise awareness about sustainability initiatives.
Additional Steps to Consider
Implementing a green team Breweries can establish a green team consisting of employees who are dedicated to sustainability. This team can develop and implement sustainability initiatives, track progress, and promote sustainability across the brewery.
Using eco-friendly cleaning products
Breweries can switch to eco-friendly cleaning products that are biodegradable and free of harmful chemicals. This can reduce the environmental impact of cleaning and ensure that wastewater is not contaminated with harmful chemicals.
Using sustainable transportation
Breweries can reduce their transportation emissions by using electric or hybrid vehicles, biodiesel fuel, or consolidating deliveries to reduce the number of trips.
Supporting local farmers
Breweries can support local farmers by sourcing their ingredients locally, which reduces transportation emissions and supports the local economy.
Reducing energy use during brewing Breweries can reduce their energy use during brewing by implementing practices such as brewing at lower temperatures or using a heat exchanger to recover waste heat.
Participating in sustainable certification programs
Breweries can participate in sustainable certification programs such as the Sustainable Brewing Initiative or B-Corp certification, which provide guidelines and resources for sustainable brewing practices.
Reducing food waste
Breweries can reduce food waste by implementing sustainable food practices such as composting, donating unused food to local food banks, or using leftovers to make new dishes or snacks.
Breweries face significant challenges in becoming more sustainable, including water usage, energy consumption, waste management, packaging, and supply chain issues. However, breweries can significantly reduce their environmental impact by implementing sustainable practices such as water conservation, energy efficiency, sustainable ingredient sourcing, waste reduction, and sustainable packaging.
Additionally, breweries can promote sustainability throughout their communities by supporting sustainable practices, educating customers, and participating in sustainable certification programs. Breweries must take a holistic approach to sustainability, considering every aspect of their operations to achieve meaningful and lasting results.