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Sustainability: Brewing for the Future

Last week we were excited to hold our first ever virtual Brewing and Beer Brands Forum.  The Forum, which usually takes place at Brewers’ Hall, is an opportunity to explore topical issues in brewing with presentations from experts in the field.  This year, while sadly unable to meet in person, we moved to a virtual platform which provided an opportunity for wider participation from our members and their brewing industry colleagues.  The theme of this year’s Forum was ‘Sustainability’ and we were treated to some very informative presentations which explored the issue from the perspective of large, medium and small brewers.

James Crampton, Corporate Affairs Director at Heineken UK kicked off the evening with a look at Heineken’s sustainability journey so far and the continued work that the company is doing in this area.  He highlighted some simple, yet highly effective initiatives that have been developed such as the Green Grip – a can carrier made from sustainably sourced card which reduces plastic usage and carbon emissions.  James also explored the paths that Heineken are taking towards ensuring net zero emissions in their brewing process, carbon neutrality in their distribution chains and better solutions for packaging.

Thanks to the virtual format of this year’s event, Steve Grossman and Mandi McKay from Sierra Nevada brewery in California were able to join the meeting and share some of the impressive work that the brewery has been doing in the area of sustainability.  Starting with sustainable energy through solar panels and microturbines, the Sierra Nevada sustainability journey moved through waste reduction, including recycling and composting, heat recovery and reuse, water use reduction, rainwater collection, onsite wastewater treatment, biogas recovery, CO2 recovery, onsite agriculture and ecological conservation, and reducing transportation and supply chain emissions.

Speaking from the perspective of a smaller brewer was Will Calvert of Windsor and Eton Brewery.  Will began his presentation with a look at some of his sustainability champions, from the makers of Toast craft lager brewing with surplus fresh bread, to Hogs Back Brewery working to revive the traditional British hop garden, he highlighted that smaller breweries can make significant contributions in this area.  He noted that smaller breweries are often more easily adaptable and thus able to make changes faster, and pointed out the benefits of a local circular economy, with raw ingredients sourced locally, short delivery ranges and a closed loop supply/return system.

The presentations were followed by a useful Q&A session and panel discussion chaired by our Renter Warden, Katherine Smart.  We are extremely grateful to all of the speakers and participants who made the event such a success.