Sustainability stories

Thanks for taking the time to familiarize yourself with our heart-felt approach to business here at New Belgium. On this page, you'll find some stories which illustrate who we are, and why we do what we do. Our commitment towards sustainability began on day one of New Belgium’s history when environmental stewardship made it into the first draft of the company’s Core Values and Beliefs, and carries through to today. Happy reading!

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Waste Not, Want Not

Here's what our overall waste picture looked like in 2008:

2008 waste data

But we don't like to include spent grain, which goes to a local cattle farmer, in our waste data because you lose granularity on everything else.  So, here's what the data looks like without it:

2008 waste sans spent grain

This is information we can use.  In 2007, we set a waste stream diversion goal (not including spent grain) of 95%.  So, we're well on our way.  Last year, we reported a diversion rate of 73.3%.  Several reasons for the dramatic improvement: (1) a new sorting station in the kitchen, with a much more pleasant compost receptacle, as well as composting crocks throughout the offices; (2) a six-sigma glass project in packaging that reduced glass waste by 39% (but glass is recycled, so the decrease would actually hurt the ratio); and (3) according to the data, a 67% reduction in landfilled waste.  We can't brag about that reduction though because in 2007 we had to use weight estimates from the EPA Standard Volume to Weight Conversion Factors.  In 2008, Gallegos, our trash hauler, helped us get actual weights for most of our containers, most of the time.  Gallegos can't weigh dumpsters, so our EH&S coworkers did it manually with a forklift scale.  They compiled months of actual weights to get a common average weight.  There's so much data collection in sustainability work!  

Finally, here's what is in our compost and recycling:

2008 recyc data

What would be really useful is knowing what goes to the landfill, but that's data I'm not anxious to collect.  Actually, we do have some idea.  Much of it could be recycled or composted.  Supersacks from speciality grains that we can't buy in bulk are also going in the landfill because they are a blended mix of paper & plastic.  We are reducing our use of supersacks and searching for alternatives to landfilling.  At the end of 2008, we eliminated the need for supersacks for organic grain by installing additional bulk grain silos.  We are also talking to some companies who might  be able to use discarded supersacks as in input for their products. 

Three last notes:  BBRP in the recycling graph stands for the Brown Bottle Recycling Program.  Read about Rob the Bicycle Courier picking up bottles from local bars and restaurants and bringing them back to the brewery, so that they can be turned into new bottles on page 10 of our 2007 report.  And sludge, shown in the first graph, comes from our process water treatment plant, and is land applied for soil conditioning.  Check out the 2007 report (p. 14) to learn about Oberon, who just completed their pilot project here to turn sludge into fish food.  They are ready for commercial scale production!  Finally, we are researching ways to use our spent grain on site to create energy. 

Next week, utility data.  Remember, if you're a stakeholder--and really, who isn't?--we warm to your involvement in the reporting process!

Cheers,

Jenn