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Sustainability Beyond Greenwashing – Ensuring We Have A Planet To Brew Beer On

Laughing Samurai_Sustainability Beyond Greenwashing_BrewDog_Sustainability

Full disclosure, I’m a fan of James Watt and his company BrewDog. We’re both from the North East of Scotland but it’s not just geographic affinity that makes me like him. I appreciate his approach of using his company to take a stance on important issues, most especially when addressing climate change and how his company impacts the environment. Watt’s LinkedIn has been touting his company’s efforts to reduce waste and lower their CO2 emissions, and he has been straight-talking about what they will do to remedy their negative impact on the environment.

As a marketer, I worry that they’re just jumping on trends and virtue signaling, paying lip service to a cause in a very un-punk way of greenwashing their brand. But when you look into the actions they are taking, you realize that they genuinely are leading in a space without any breakout leaders.

Firstly, they partnered with Professor Mike Berners-Lee from Small World Consulting – brother of the inventor of the internet Sir Tim Berners-Lee! – to count the carbon emissions not just from their production and operations, but throughout their supply chain in all the territories the multinational company is active in. In 2019, their emissions were measured as 67,951 tons of CO2 – and every year going forward BrewDog is pledging to take twice that volume out of the atmosphere. How do they plan on doing that?

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Their biggest announcement this week was the purchase of 2,050 acres of pasture land in the Scottish Highlands, upon which they will establish a new forest and peatland to capture CO2, starting 2021. Until then, they are partnering with four woodland and biodiversity conservation partners on three continents (in the UK, Canada and Australia).

Other steps they are taking with their products:

  • Trash Can Punk – repurposing defectively printed cans that would otherwise be wasted
  • MEGA Beer – using surplus fresh bread to make beer, which reduces food waste (which effects land, water, and energy consumption)
  • Bad Beer Vodka – using beer that doesn’t pass QC to make vodka
  • Cosmic Crush – Using cosmetically defective and end-of-shelf-life fruit to produce their Overworks Sour Beers
  • Dog Biscuits – using spent-spelt from the brewery to make dog treats

Steps they are taking with production and logistics:

  • Using the leftover malted barley and turning it into biomethane that would provide energy to their facility
  • Sourcing all their electricity from three wind turbines next to their production facility in Ellon
  • Introducing an anaerobic digester bio plant in 2021 that will turn waste brewery water into H2O and biomethane, both of which can then be reused in their facility
  • An electric delivery vehicle fleet

Forbes has declared BrewDog to officially be the first carbon-negative beer business and with carbon negative breweries in the UK, Australia and the USA, BrewDog are able to encourage other breweries and businesses to follow suit. It’s worth reading their full plan and supporting their initiatives.

As Mike Berners-Lee puts it, “They are raising the bar for the business world. Both in their strong carbon cutting action and their straight talking. And this is just the start.”

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