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LETTERS Craft breweries Great issue on water (Making It, number 19). I was particularly drawn to the ‘Brewing watershed’ article by SABMiller’s director of sustainable development where the giant brewer outlined its water and energy efficiency aims. It will be fascinating (as well as vital) to see how they develop. But I would argue that it’s more likely the greatest change amongst brewers will come from the craft breweries, which are making astonishing market penetration as we speak, both here in the United States and across the world. They remain small by design, they keep true to their local roots and are innovative and sustainable in ways that the larger companies are unable to be (or unwilling to try). Also, outside influences have been forcing breweries’ hands. Warmer temperatures in the Pacific Northwest, coupled with rising demand, have contributed to a doubling of the price of hops over the past decade. Financial and sourcing challenges for brewers who depend on that region for a majority of their supplies. Leading craft breweries are finding economic opportunity in renewable energy, energy efficiency, water efficiency, waste recapture and
sustainable sourcing. For example, Brewery Vivant, Deschutes Brewery and Redhook report that they are now using 100% renewable energy to generate electricity. New Belgium Brewing has installed on-site solar arrays at its facilities. Brewery Vivant became the first American LEED-certified brewery with its LEED-Silver facility containing efficient heating and cooling units with CO2 sensors plus design features such as rainfall capture, to improve water quality. Many breweries are also cutting their transportation footprints by reducing packaging and choosing aluminum cans versus glass bottles to lighten their loads
and associated greenhouse gas emissions. Packaging choices are becoming an increasingly important consideration. Cans are emerging as the environmentally conscious choice due to their recyclability, comparative durability, and a lightweight design that requires less fuel to transport. Lots of craft breweries in the US have signed the Brewery Climate Declaration (see www.ceres.org) and have committed to helping combat climate change in a variety of ways. Hopefully this will influence big beverage companies and other industries to raise their own sustainability strategies.
l Thomas Mitchell, by email
Who will lead the green revolution? Economist Mariana Mazzucato talks a lot of sense (Making It, number 17, “Who will lead the green revolution?”). What’s refreshing is how she challenges the usual image of the State that you too often hear from the business sector – it’s “lethargic”, “regulating”, “inertial” or, even, “meddling”. She shows that some of the most high-risk and courageous investments that led to revolutions in IT, biotechnology and nanotechnology were sparked by public sector institutions.
In Making lt number 19, Anna Swaithes, Director of Sustainable Development at SABMiller plc, said that water is a vital ingredient for brewers and that her company regards it as part of a broader global challenge.