BrewDog launches £12m eco-friendly plant plan

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Tree planting among company’s schemes: BrewDog co-founders James Watt and Martin Dickie
Tree planting among company’s schemes: BrewDog co-founders James Watt and Martin Dickie

Related tags Finance Beer Craft beer Social responsibility Multi-site pub operators Pubco + head office

Scottish brewer and bar operator BrewDog has commissioned work to create a £12m bio-energy plant at its Ellon base that will power the production of 176m pints per year while reducing carbon emissions by 7,500 tonnes.

The plant will mean the brewery will become self-sufficient in gas and surplus supplies will be used to power company vehicles and be sold back to the grid.

Since the new brewery in Ellon opened in 2013, BrewDog said it has reduced the volume of water it takes to make its beer by over 50% but there is still waste created by the brewing process. An anaerobic digester will help BrewDog recycle most of the 200m litres of wastewater produced every year in the beer-making process, as well as generating bio-methane to power the brewery’s boilers.

Centrepiece of £50m investment

The plant combines the wastewater with spent yeast and hops from the brewing process to be “digested” by bacteria to make biomethane. Over the coming years, BrewDog also plans to use the CO2 created by the digester to carbonate its beer. When fully operational, the digester will create around 200 cubic metres of biomethane per hour – equivalent to around 23,000MWh of energy per year and enough to heat more than 1,500 homes.

The facility forms the centrepiece of BrewDog’s £50m investment plans to slash carbon emissions per hectolitre of beer by 35% versus its baseline in 2019. As well as powering the brewery, the biomethane produced will be used to create compressed natural gas to power delivery trucks, which will deliver the beer to its Glasgow distribution hub.

BrewDog director of sustainability Sarah Warman said: “We’re not just here to make great beer – we’re making great beer that doesn’t cost the earth. Our ambition is nothing short of making BrewDog beer the most planet-friendly beer on Earth, and we’ve taken giant strides towards that goal with our new bio-energy plant.

“Our number one sustainability goal is to reduce emissions, and we want to lead the way for the entire brewing industry. We want all our teams to feel like the work they do supports our mission to protect the planet.”

Track record strengthened

BrewDog added the digester strengthens the company’s track record on renewable energy, including using wind power across its entire UK business while its Australian brewery generates 16MWh of energy a month through solar panels on its roof and its US brewery is set to follow suit with its own solar power plans to drive down emissions.

The company’s new state-of-the-art canning plant – capable of packing 72,000 cans an hour – is claimed to be able to cut emissions because the carbon footprint of canned beer is 35% lower than bottled beer. BrewDog’s goal is to make sure all its cans are made from 100% recycled aluminium. BrewDog’s green drive also extends as far as bar menus because low carbon vegetarian and vegan options now account for more than half of options, and half of the dishes consumed as well, giving a starring role to food choices that are better for the planet.

BrewDog’s sustainability initiatives also include one of the largest tree planting and peatland restoration in the UK. The business said the 9,308-acre Lost Forest near Aviemore will see more than 1.1m trees planted, alongside peatland restoration, and will be capable of removing significant carbon from the atmosphere during the next 100 years.

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