When implementing sustainable practices into their operations, breweries tend to start by looking at how they can reduce resource use. It’s no secret that resources such as water and electricity are a crucial part of the brewing process. Without water or electricity, we wouldn’t have beer. Through evaluating data and trends, breweries are now zeroing in on how to produce high-quality beer, while using the least amount of resources necessary.
The Brewers Association (BA), a not-for-profit trade organization committed to improving all aspects of craft brewing, has created a benchmarking tool that can be very valuable to craft brewers. With this tool, the BA has aimed to design a collaborative platform where breweries of similar production size and geographic region can compare different operational aspects with the hope of pushing all involved breweries to make reductions in their resource use.
Implementing tracking mechanisms into a brewing operation has numerous benefits. From a business perspective, tracking your resources allows you to analyze where reductions can be made, which is ultimately helping the bottom line of the business. From an environmental perspective, less utility usage plus less waste equals a lighter footprint.
Some of the aspects covered within the BA benchmarking tool include water use, energy use, and total emissions (normalized to barrels of beer packaged). Breweries enter Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) into the benchmarking tool to be evaluated. Some of these KPIs include:
Electricity - total purchased usage and cost
Water - total purchased usage and cost
Off-site waste disposal - quantity and cost
CO2 - total purchased usage and cost
These KPIs are important to ensure that proper evaluations can be made in regard to the financial, environmental, and social impact of a brewery.
The BA Benchmarking tool can be used by any brewery that is a member of the Brewers Association. The user-friendly, spreadsheet-based tool allows a brewery representative to go through past utility billings and production data, and enter data from previous years all the way up to current billings. After data has been entered, a brewery can access a dashboard with visual representations that show where they stand in comparison to other breweries of the same size range for numerous resource categories. Breweries can also set long-term financial and environmental goals regarding their KPIs.
The updated version of the Brewers Association Benchmarking Tool is a resource that will hopefully gain more traction moving forward. Implementing tracking mechanisms is a practice that should be standard in an industry such as craft brewing. With tracking, goal setting, and collaborative actions for reduction among breweries, we are looking at a future where the highest quality craft beer will be produced with the least amount of impact on the environment.
About the Author
Brewery Sustainability and Efficiency Intern
Iowa Waste Reduction Center