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Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. As weather patterns become more extreme and erratic, we’re seeing the impact it’s having on food, shelter, marginalized communities, and our ecosystem. That’s why we worked to make Fat Tire the first certified carbon neutral beer in the U.S and are committed to being carbon neutral by 2030.
What is New Belgium doing to fight climate change and save beer?
This includes installing solar panels, creating electricity from wastewater, capturing and reusing heat in the brewing process, achieving LEED certification on new buildings, and more. Fat Tire is also America’s first certified carbon neutral beer and we plan to be carbon neutral by 2050.
We co-founded the Glass Recycling Coalition to improve recycling nationwide, and we founded the Brewers Association Sustainability Subcommittee.
We’re members of Business for Innovative Climate & Energy Policy (BICEP) and we sit on the leadership circle for the We Are Still In movement. New Belgium also pushed for the City of Fort Collins to adopt a goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2030.
Fat Tire is America’s first certified carbon neutral beer, learn more about why it matters to Drink Sustainably.
We all deserve to live in places that optimize environmental, economic, and social well-being. GRID Alternatives makes this possible with their transformative work around social justice, affordable housing and solar power. As a supporter of GRID since 2015, New Belgium has donated over $130,000 to their work.
GRID Alternatives Colorado has now installed over 5.5 Megawatts of solar throughout Colorado, saving hundreds of low-income qualified families and multiple affordable housing providers more than $9.8 million and offsetting over 47,000 tons of greenhouse gases over the systems' lifetimes.
Our shared Solarthon accomplishments include:
In 1998, New Belgium was looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint. We found an opportunity to bring wind power to our hometown for the first time, but it required a large upfront investment. We had the money in the bank, but it had already been allocated as profit sharing for our coworkers. Unanimously, our coworker chose to give up their profit sharing in order to make us the first wind-powered brewery.
Did you know your beers are partially made with sunlight and biogas? Our Fort Collins Packaging Hall is covered with 296 kW of solar. At their peak, these panels make enough electricity to power our canning and bottling lines. We also make electricity at our water treatment plant where we clean water before discharging it to the city treatment system. This produces 11% of our electricity in Fort Collins.
Over the years, we have invested in several energy efficiency technologies. Nearly every room in our two breweries has access to natural light, we’ve improved insulation throughout, and implemented boiler tank technology that drastically reduces our energy use per hectolitre of beer. While both breweries are built to a high level of efficiency, our Asheville brewery is also LEED Certified, receiving Silver, Gold, and Platinum distinctions throughout the campus.
Still, given those investments, our energy efficiency ratios have struggled to improve due to fluctuating capacity utilization and the sheer number of new beers we’ve created. It’s not likely we’ll meet the 2020 goal which is inspiring new approaches within our energy efficiency work at the brewery.
Cans vs. Bottles: Which is more sustainable?
So, what’s better for the planet, cans or bottles? Most people will guess that cans have lower greenhouse gas emissions than bottles because cans are lighter to ship. But it’s important we look at the entire life cycle of each package, from cradle to grave (or, hopefully, cradle to cradle). If we don’t do this, we could reduce GHG emissions in one place, and then increase them in another place. While emissions from cans are lower for shipping, they’re much worse in the first half of their lifecycle. At the end of the day, cans have slightly fewer emissions than bottles. This is primarily due to hydro power, which also causes negative environmental impacts on their respective watersheds. While both cans and bottles are GHG-intensive, both materials are infinitely recyclable, so please be sure to recycle your containers to lower our carbon footprint.
If you really want to reduce your emissions, choose a glass of draft beer instead of a single use container. Refillable bottles are also a good idea if you can be sure they are actually refilled. You may not see much of this in the United States, but it is coming back in states like Oregon, Montana, and California. Other countries have widely successful programs that are drastically better for the environment, and the U.S. can do it to. Check out New Belgium’s research of refillable bottles here.
New Belgium was born on a bike when a cycling trip through Belgium inspired a young couple to bring the flavors of centuries-old Belgian beer to the town of Fort Collins, CO. Since then, bikes have been a part of the heart and soul of New Belgium.
Riding improves physical wellness and mental health, reduces CO2 emissions, and saves money. And New Belgium is always stoked to get more people on bicycles. Here are the highlights of our work in supporting bicycles in our local communities:
Check out some of our favorite bicycle nonprofits. These groups are total heroes in the bike world!