After the last four months, you would probably be hard-pressed to find a small craft brewery who has disposable income, especially any that are willing to invest in sustainable upgrades in their facilities and operations. Though some of these implementations seem minor, or even repetitive, here are five low-cost sustainable implementations that craft breweries can and should invest in.
- Conduct Waste Audits at Brewing Facilities. These audits should be done regularly whether that be annually, semi-annually, or even monthly. Conducting a waste audit helps bring an understanding of the amount of waste that is actually being generated. Having a baseline number for the amount of waste generated is the perfect starting point for developing best management practices for reducing that waste. After collecting data from an audit, you can ask questions including what is the largest contributor to our solid waste? And is our amount of waste change synchronized with our production change? Landfilling waste can become expensive, so not only is it advantageous to reduce waste from an environmental perspective, but also from a financial savings perspective.
- Install Strip Curtains on Cooler Entrances. Brewery coolers often experience heavy foot traffic and this allows a large amount of cold air to escape. Subsequently, energy usage is increased to help maintain the cold air temperature. Strip curtains are an inexpensive way to help minimize the cold air loss during times that cooler doors may be open. Again, increased energy consumption leads to increased utility costs. Minimizing the amount of energy consumption will both save money and lower emissions from energy generation.
- Buy and Support Local. Contrary to popular belief, buying local products can be affordable! Whether buying specialty ingredients for beer recipes, or food for the restaurant within a brewery, it is important to put a focus on buying local products where available. Buying local usually means buying smaller quantities. The positive payoff of this is less food waste. Since many breweries do not compost due to both costs and upkeep, minimizing waste at the source helps lower the amount of waste which will again be emptied into the landfill. It is also important to mention that positive community involvement is an important part of sustainable development, so support local!
- Install a Programmable Thermostat. This is a practice which in the long term can save significant amounts of money. Similar to that of the cooler strip curtains, a programmable thermostat is a simple practice that allows you to easily minimize wasted energy generation and usage. Thermostats are fairly affordable, and programming it to set temperatures based on high and low volume traffic times will do the work for you. Optimizing the temperature change at the brewery when no one is present is a basic best management practice that should be happening at every brewery.
- Share Commitment to Sustainability. If a brewery has taken time to implement sustainable practices that are helping their communities and environment, it is a great idea to share that! Consumers like to support local businesses that are making a difference and making positive changes. A few great ways to do this include sharing specific practices on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. These platforms are a great way to engage with consumers and show them exactly how their beer is being produced in a sustainable way. Another way to share this commitment is simply drafting a mission statement that makes it apparent that sustainability is a priority. Mission statements can be visible on a brewery’s website or even posted within the brewery, as a constant reminder of what is being done.
Sustainable practices don’t have to cost significant amounts of money. A culmination of many, low-cost implementations can make a collective effort to lower a brewery’s effect on the environment. These five practices are just a few of many ways to continue the sustainability journey without breaking the bank.