“Waste” is just another term for “resource” at MillerCoors breweries.

In an effort to better environmental stewardship at plants and streamline
operations, MillerCoors has reached the zero-waste-to-landfill threshold at four
of its eight major breweries.

Kim Marotta, vice president of corporate social responsibility, said the
company is proud of the results from plants that achieved the zero-waste goal.

“We´ve always been very mindful of waste, and try to find another use for
nearly every brewing byproduct. For decades, we´ve been saying, ‘waste is a
resource out of place,´ ” said Marotta, in an email interview. “We believe that,
and it´s really the core of our recycling efforts.”

Company plants now reuse or recycle nearly 100% of all brewery waste. The
Golden, Colo., site has been converting waste beer into ethanol since 1995 and
selling it to nearby refineries.

Spent yeast from brewing creates ethanol, which is then removed from the
waste.

The plant can produce up to 3 million gallons of ethanol each year, Marotta
said.

To cut water consumption, its Albany, Ga., factory has turned to ionic
air-rinsing to clean beer containers.

Instead of cleaning cans with water, workers use pressurized air to sanitize
cans.

Dave Dixon, environmental, health and safety specialist at the Albany
brewery, said the pressurized rinser may save 4 million gallons of water each
year. It´s part of an effort to reach a water efficiency goal of 3.5 barrels of
water for every barrel of beer made by 2015.

He said the rinser was an instant hit among employees.

“It´s a charged, pressurized jet of air,” Dixon said. “This is our new baby
over here.”

After seeing it in action, MillerCoors leaders are contemplating whether to
introduce the technology at other plants, said spokesperson Laurie Leopold.

“How do you save water? Don´t use it,” Leopold said. “It´s helping us push
towards that 2015 goal.”

At its Milwaukee brewery, the company is building a machine that will reclaim
pasteurizer water used for cleaning cans and bottles to save around 200 million
gallons annually.

The company is also working with farmers to limit water usage when watering
hops and barley crops.

“We would never compromise the quality of our beers,” Marotta said. “Our
efforts to reduce our water usage are to ensure that we´re making our great
beers for many more years to come.”

To foster a green culture, plants make sure to keep each employee involved
regardless of company rank by forming green teams.

Dixon said his team meets periodically to cover a “whole gambit” of issues
ranging from water usage to waste reduction and recycling.

Marotta said it´s vital to keep everyone involved in sustainability efforts.

“Meeting zero-waste-to-landfill and remaining that way is and will continue
to be a grassroots effort,” Marotta said. “Everyone at the brewery is involved,
from the plant manager to hourly workers.”

Contact Waste & Recycling News reporter Vince Bond Jr. at
vbond@crain.com or 313-446-1653.

 

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