Drinking Beer to Save the Planet
This week, the Scottish brewing company Brewdog announced it had become carbon negative — meaning that it removes more carbon into the atmosphere than it emits — the first brewery with that accolade.
This isn’t the first time Brewdog has stood out. For the last decade, they have run regular rounds of investing, allowing beer drinkers to buy shares in the business via their ‘equity for punks’ model. While it may seem like a nice idea rather than a practical fundraising exercise, they’ve raised over $95 million in 8 rounds. Despite only being started in 2007, it’s now valued at over $2 billion.
Their current focus, besides the obvious production of beer, has been to invest in reducing the companies footprint. “Our Carbon. Our problem. So we’re going to fix it ourselves,” says the founder. Their sustainability report shows that emissions for 2019 were just shy of 68,000 tons of CO2. With the help of Mike Berners-Lee, a leading expert on carbon footprinting and sustainability and an author (and the brother of the man responsible for inventing the internet), they’ve decided on a clear strategy for the coming years.
They recently purchased the ‘Brewdog Forest’, over 2,000 acres in the Scottish Highlands to be restored with a million trees by 2022 while also committing to restoring 650 acres of peatlands. This will sequester carbon while enhancing biodiversity and creating new ecosystems for animals to thrive in an area that is currently used as grazing land. Until planting begins, they’re working with expert consultancies to accurately count their scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions and have partnered with multiple organisations to assist in the offsetting of emissions so that twice as much carbon is removed as emitted.
It’s not just current offsetting and future removal though, they have made big progress on reducing their footprint in the first place:
- Barley from the brewing process is turned into green gas (biomethane) which reduces all reliance on fossil fuels while brewing.
- They’ve invested in the full electrification of their vehicles, with fully electric vans ready by the end of the year.
- All electricity to brew beer in the Uk and all Brewdog bars are powered by wind turbines.
- CO2 from fermentation is being captured and used further in the process to carbonate the beers.
They’re serious about tackling waste too. Any cans that have dodgy printing go to the online store rather than being thrown away, all beers that would otherwise be wasted are developed into vodka, leftover fruits are made into their sour beers and spelt from the brewing process are made into dog biscuits.
Brewdog is the first major brewery to not just commit to net-zero but achieve carbon negative status. As a well-respected brand, this could hopefully lead to many others following this path. It’s also a great way to justify drinking beer — knowing you’re quite literally helping the planet.