Being the ecologically environmentally earth loving types that we are, we constantly rack our brains about how to reuse material that comes into the brewery. We could bundle it all up, all the plastics, cardboards and metals and dump them into the recycling bin, but there’s something far more satisfying in seeing ‘trash’ sent out into the world again with a new, unexpected lease of life.
Much of the brewery by products can be re-used. For instance, our chilling water used for cooling hot wort down to yeast pitching temperatures is re-circulated back into the HLT to be used for the next brew, already preheated and saving on electricity. If the tank is full, we utilise IBC tanks as a cheap means of storage from where it can be utilised as cleaning and rinse waters in the future.
Spent grains can be used as animal feed or compost as can the spent hops. If you had the machinery, you could make animal treats out of them or simple nutritious energy bars. When cleaning out tanks, we take the wet trub from the bottom and simply press it, making a dryish cake out of the remains which can head for the fertiliser heap.
Brewers yeast whether lager or ale strains can re reused several times as long as the quality remains good, thereby saving on further disposal costs.
But the actual products of the brewing process are only half the story of the recycling within the brewery. Goods in and out also present opportunities to re-use materials. Instead of ordering a truck load of box dividers for our bottles, we cut up and use cardboard as packing between our bottles of beer. It’s simple and effective.
Similarly, we are always finding uses for pallets. If you ever want to spend a few minutes of your life getting inspired, check out pallet construction – tables, chairs, racks, cupboards, presses, shelves and countless other everyday items have been made out of pallets. In the brewery, we’ve reused damaged pallets for shelving and racking. Our tasting bar is built out of pallets.
Plastic is a pain in the ass though. Acres of pallet wrap arrives with every pallet of goods in and bottle pallets also include a further layer of stronger plastic around the pallet itself. We manage to re-use some of it – pallet wrap makes ideal filler instead of polystyrene for packing boxes with precious beer. But try as we might, we can’t find a use for all of it and so disappointingly, it heads for the recycling bin where we console ourselves that at least there, it may be recycled.
So overall, we don’t do too bad in the normal day to day operations at the brewery but we still want to improve our eco-footprint as we progress. This means simple things such as more insulation for the tanks, solar panels for heating water and better heat recovery systems throughout the brewing process.Pages: