The brewery has a goal of zero waste, meaning that anything that we bring into the brewery or send out must be able to be safely returned to the Earth or industry. In other words, everything should be recyclable, compostable, or reusable.
The key to zero waste is smart purchasing. Even with smart purchasing, it’s still difficult to control what comes into a business by employees, customers, contractors, and vendors. Miscellaneous packaging is a big culprit. In The Responsible Company, Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley note that companies generate 75% of waste sent to landfills and incinerators. Chouinard and Stanley continue to explain that packaging that is discarded by the end user almost immediately contributes more than a third of all waste sent to incinerators and landfills.
In the brewery we can eliminate waste from our own products fairly easily. Packaging beer will be limited to kegs, Crowlers™, and cans since bottles have caps that will end up in landfills, and corks are rarely recycled. In addition to being 100% recyclable, cans are much lighter, protect beer from light better, have a much higher chance of containing recycled material, and are more likely to be recycled than glass.
Any merchandise we sell will also be under the strict zero-waste rule. We feel very strongly that there is no reason to make a product that has an end life of being buried under ground forever. We will continue to work with our suppliers and request that they limit packaging to 100% recyclable and compostable materials.
Organic leftovers from making beer include spent grain, spent hops, spent yeast and any other beer additions like fruits and veggies that go into the boil kettle or fermenters. The bulk of our organic leftovers from brewing is spent grain and is sent to the Whispering Rise Farm and Animal Sanctuary. The rest of the organic leftovers go to the Pigtown Food for Thought community garden where it is turned into nutrient rich compost for residents to use to grow fruits and veggies.
Finding a water filter that doesn’t have a non-recyclable cartridge was difficult. The two zero-waste options for water treatment options we found are to use a mineral based refillable cartridge system which would require only changing out minerals that can be composted, or to use a filter company that makes filters capable of being recycled though specialized recycling companies like Terracycle.
We are fortunate to be one of the select commercial partners of HydroViv, a passionate company that taylor-makes each water filter based on the an individual’s water filtration needs. Not only will HydroViv customize our water system to fit our brewing needs and zero-waste goals!