Diverting 90% of your waste from incineration and landfill is possible – US case studies for Breweries

Have you ever wondering where beer come from and how the industry manages its waste? Beer is produced in breweries before to be bottled and shipping to distribution centres. Singapore accommodates a few local breweries and one large scale facility operated by Asia Pacific Breweries, located in Tuas https://goo.gl/maps/yyLPpa8NkiDyChPj8.

The production of beer includes several processes such as mashing, lautering, boiling, fermenting, conditioning, and filtering. The brewing process generates a significant amount of waste such as spent grain, yeast, hops and trub, and wastewater. Spent grain and the leftover malt can constitute as much as 85% of a brewery’s total by-product.[1]

Fortunately for brewers, spent grain can be reused. Here are some of the most common strategies:[2]

  • Sold and/donated as animal feeds,
  • An ingredient for bread, cookies, and dog biscuits,
  • Composted with other brewing waste organics (yeast, trubs, etc),
  • Converted into biogas using anaerobic digesters (Spent-grain-to-fuel).

Breweries also discharge over 70% of their incoming water as effluent. Effluent is defined as wastewater that is generated and flows to the sewer system. In some cases, the discharge costs can be higher than the cost of water supply.[3]

Here, discover how some breweries in US have reduce or reuse their organic waste.

Bell’s Brewery, Michigan, US

In its sustainability webpage [4], Bell’s Brewery explains:

  • A local farmer picks up the brewery’s spent grain and uses it to feed his dairy cows.
  • Compost food waste from their Eccentric Café’s kitchen with sawdust from carpentry contractors and spent grain from the original brewery in downtown Kalamazoo. In 2019, they composted over 90,000 pounds (~40.8 metric tonnes) of material and their landfill diversion rate more than tripled. http://www.bellsbeer.com/composting-eccentric-caf
  • Built a bio-energy building, called the Cube, to turn their brewery’s wastewater into electricity. It processes more than 100,000 gallons (~380 m3) of wastewater daily converting pollutants into renewable energy for use at the brewery. Check out this short video to learn more: https://youtu.be/9fLEbv57kOg

Great Lakes Brewing Company, Cleveland, Ohio, US

In its sustainability webpage [5], the company explains:

  • Spent grain is used as a growing medium for gourmet mushrooms, ingredient in bread and pretzels, and feed for dairy and beef cattle; it is also being tested as a soil amendment by local vegetable growers.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, California, US

In its sustainability webpage [6], the company explains:

  • 100% of spent grain and yeast is recovered and sent to local cattle and dairy lots as supplemental feed. They installed an in-vessel composting system, called HotRot, in response to the lack of large-scale composting programs in their area. With the help of bacteria, air, and heat, organic waste (such as the waste from the brewing process and onsite food services) breaks down and turns into compost,.
  • From 2010 to 2014, the brewery composted more than 2,310,840 pounds (~1,050 metric tonnes) of waste, generating 3,700 cubic yards (~2,800 m3) of usable compost. [7]

As a result of these efforts, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company was awarded the TRUE Zero Waste Platinum Certification in 2013! [8]

Would you like to know about how you could reduce waste in your facility? Contact us!

Also, check out our publications to see our factsheets, https://zerowastecity.com/publications/.

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About Zero Waste City

Zero Waste City is a consulting business specialised in waste reduction for commercial and industrial facilities. We help companies to save money by reducing waste and to achieve Zero Waste goals. Our services include:

Our services include:

  • Waste audit (quantifying waste streams and identifying immediate cost saving opportunities)
  • Compliance with regulations such as:
    • Mandatory Packaging Reporting
    • Mandatory Waste Reporting
    • Mandatory Food Waste Segregation
  • Project implementation and on-going support
  • Measurement and Verification of savings
  • Guidance to achieve Zero Waste goals and certifications.