This past May, we took a look at five of the most environmentally responsible beers–Cascade Green, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Grassroots Ale, Fat Tire, and Brooklyn Sustainable Porter. But as it turns out, a nice watered-down can of Miller High Life might be more sustainable than all of them.
In its 44-page “From Grain to Glass” corporate social responsibility report, MillerCoors–a joint venture between Miller Brewing Company and Coors Brewing Company–claims that it reuses or recycles 98% of all brewery waste, including glass, plastic, metal, paperboard, and byproducts. The Virginia MillerCoors brewery managed to divert a whopping 99.2% of its waste from landfills. This is a huge deal–smaller, boutique breweries might be able to make similar claims, but MillerCoors is responsible for almost 30% of U.S. beer sales.
MillerCoors is ahead of the game in a number of other arenas as well. In 2008, MillerCoors produced 1.7 million gallons of fuel-grade ethanol from waste beer. The company also recorded 4.10:1.00 water-to-beer ratio in 2008, which is ahead of U.N. Environmental Program target of 5.00:1.00. In 2009, MillerCoors plans to reduce the ratio further to 3.96:1.00.
The brewing giant isn’t just meeting the status quo for sustainability; it’s going above and beyond. But in some ways, so is competitor Anheuser-Busch, which is the world’s largest operator of wastewater-recycling bio-energy recovery systems (BERS). The company also estimates that its breweries will use renewable energy for 15% of their needs by 2010. Here’s hoping the sustainable brewing battle continues for a long time.
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