MillerCoors Cuts Brewery Waste Down to Zero

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - There are a number of strands in the sustainability story: different approaches, if you will, towards achieving a more sustainable economy. Among these are energy conservation, increased use of renewables, water conservation, and switching to more sustainable materials, such as those that can be grown rather than mined, fracked or drilled. Another is the movement towards zero waste.

When a company reduces the amount of material they send to a landfill, they save money on hauling, disposal and tipping fees. For many, that’s enough to get their interest. But other benefits accrue. For them, it’s increased material recovery which leads to less reliance on raw materials. A company that wastes less is a more efficient company.  But the benefits extend beyond the edges of the company’s balance sheet in the form of better use of public lands, and reduced methane emissions, among other things. Nature, perhaps the wisest teacher in this world, does not have waste. Anything that isn’t used by one system is used as an input to another. We can learn something from that, and clearly some companies have.

MillerCoors just announced today that with their Fort Worth brewery now achieving zero landfill status, all of their major breweries are now landfill-free. Says CEO Gavin Hattersley, “We are committed to finding innovative ways to build on our heritage of brewing high-quality beer sustainably. It is one of our driving priorities in creating America’s best beer company.”

Hattersley acknowledged that this was a team effort and that no “one department, one brewery or one employee,” was solely responsible.

In the past year, the MillerCoors Fort Worth Brewery in Texas reduced waste by 66 percent compared to 2014. A major contributor was an educational effort led throughout the facility by a Sustainability Employee Council. The intent was to make recycling both easier and more accessible. Just about all brewery waste is recycled or reused, with the rest going to a waste-to-energy facility. 

The landfill-free journey began in 2009, at the Trenton, Ohio Brewery. The goal at that time was to reduce waste by 15% in six years. Those expectations were exceeded and that brewery reached the landfill-free milestone in 2011. Along the way, the company has reduced its total waste by 89% across the organization, keeping 9 million pounds out of landfills.

According to Kim Marotta, MillerCoors Director of Sustainability, who I spoke with last year about their efforts to conserve water, “As we continue our journey to brew a sustainable future, maintaining landfill-free operations at all our major breweries will make a significant impact. While we continuously strive to reduce waste, we will also remain focused on our other sustainability priorities, including preventing drunk driving, further decreasing our water use, lowering our carbon emissions, and making greater investment in our people and our communities.”

Achieving landfill-free operations at all major breweries is not the end of MillerCoors commitment to waste reduction. By 2020, the brewer aims to achieve landfill-free operations at all its major manufacturing sites in the U.S. 

Besides, MillerCoors, a number of other big companies have their sights set on waste reduction. Like General Motors, for example, who just announced their 131st landfill-free facility, finding unique ways to utilize parts packaging and other waste products for non-critical applications in their products.