Green Microbreweries: Crafting a Sustainable Business

By Jen Wolfe & Melissa Turley

The craft beer movement has accrued a diehard following, recently creating a community of beer lovers and aficionados. In the last two decades microbreweries have been popping up across the country, serving home-brewed ales and lagers to thirsty followers.

Craft brewers have carved out an important niche – many  breweries aim to create beer that not only tastes good but also is good for the environment.

The New Belgium Brewing company has been at the forefront of “greening” the beer industry.

In the late 1990s, a group of employees got together and advocated for greater emphasis onsustainability. Over the next year they worked with other employees and experts to create the first Sustainability Management System – a document describing the current environmental impact, goals for improving in the future and a plan to get the wheels turning. Check out the report: New Belgium Going Green 

New Belgium has made green a business priority – even hiring a sustainability director and specialist. Some initiatives they have developed include -

  • A group of employees who develop meetings and trainings on topics from composting to biking for everyone at the award-winning workplace to get involved in.
  • Installed an on-site treatment plant to turn wastewater into methane gas which is then used to power and heat the brewery. It can produce up to 15% of the company’s energy needs.
  • Incorporated solar panels on top of their packaging hall.
  • New Belgium also became the country’s first brewery to purchase 100% of its electricity from wind power in 1999.
  • Developed the Brown Bottle Recycling Program in 2003 with participating bars and restaurants to recycle exclusively amber glass – the glass they use to bottle their beer.
  • They also give each employee a bike after their one-year anniversary with the brewery.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user: Canadian Veggie

Craft your own sustainability story! Follow @newbelgium or check out local craft beer companies in your area! Learn more about the craft brew industry here and more green business at Planet Forward. 

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