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Brief Published: 18 May 2018

Top 4 Sustainable Beer Initiatives

Pioneering food and beverage brands are looking to waste and sustainability as an opportunity for savvy product development. The beer market is a key sector in this space, with companies tweaking production methods and harvesting surplus and 'waste' ingredients from unexpected places. Here, we round up the latest examples. 

  • Better Brewing Technique: AB InBev, the world's biggest beer company, recently announced a new patented brewing method that reduces CO2 waste and water consumption. Instead of bringing the liquid to boiling point at the end of the process to limit unwanted smells, the beer is brought to just below this temperature and injected with CO2 bubbles, producing the same result. This process reduces CO2 emissions by 5%, water consumption by 0.5%, and evaporation wastage from 5% to 1%.  
  • Leftover-Loaf Libations: Marks & Spencer has collaborated with UK brewery Adnams on a range of ales and fruit beers. The beverages use surplus bread crusts from Marks & Spencer's sandwich production line to replace some of the malt. The Use Our Loaf range includes a triple English hop ale, a raspberry fruit beer, and an Earl Grey pale ale.
Ab Inbev has developed a patented brewing process that reduces energy and water waste
Marks & Spencer X Adnans Brewery
  • The New Yoghurt Drink: Professor Sam Alcaine from Cornell University is in the process of creating a beer using leftover acid whey from New York's Greek yoghurt industry. The alcohol is produced by using multiple strains of natural bacteria and yeasts to break down the lactose. This creates a 2.7% volume beer with a sour and salty flavour similar to gose beer
  • Sustainable Six-Packs: Beer packaging is also an area ripe for a sustainable revamp. More than 100 million marine mammals are affected by plastic waste every year, according to the University of Plymouth (OGP, 2017). With this in mind, Scottish bio-tech firm Cuantec is using the remains of shellfish to create biodegradable six-pack rings, working with local brewery Jaw Brew, with a view to launch them to the market by 2020.

    Likewise, Florida brewery Saltwater Brewery has teamed with US packaging start-up E6PR to trial completely biodegradable six-pack rings made from barley and wheat ribbons left over from the brewing process.
Cornell University
Saltwater Brewery

For more on how brands are working to create sustainable solutions for the food and beverage market, see New Architecture of Taste, New Food Covetables and Packaging Futures: Sustainability.

For more specific examples, see Starbucks Launches Coffee-Waste Latte, Alcohol Made from Tofu Whey, and App Retails Unsold Restaurant Meals.