We reuse or recycle nearly 100 percent of our brewery waste including protein-rich residual brewer’s grain and spent yeast, glass cullet, aluminum, plastic, wood and other materials. We turn “waste” into energy, compost and soil conditioner for our own use. And we send the remaining byproducts to companies that use them for other beneficial purposes.
In 2014, we sent 2.95 million pounds of waste to landfill and reduced waste sent to landfill by more than 896,000 pounds. Seven of our eight major breweries are now landfill-free, with the Milwaukee brewery achieving this status in December 2014. Rocky Mountain Metal Container End Plant also achieved landfill-free status in December 2014 by increasing recycling and switching to reusable rags.
Milwaukee Brewery Goes Landfill-Free
The Milwaukee Brewery sent its last load of waste to landfill in December 2014. Throughout 2014, the brewery eliminated 124,000 pounds of waste by finding new ways to reuse or recycle it.
"Our Green Team played a big role in our success," said Joan Meyer, environmental engineer at the Milwaukee Brewery. "The team is led by brewery employees who are really passionate about achieving landfill-free status.
With the help of a new centralized compactor and standardized color coding for recycling containers, the Milwaukee Brewery was able to reduce waste by 19 percent over the prior year and now generates less than 124,420 pounds of waste per month, which is shipped to a waste-to-energy facility in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Milwaukee is the seventh MillerCoors brewery to become landfill-free.
Converting Waste Beer Into Fuel-Grade Ethanol
Since 1996, our Golden Brewery has partnered with a facility (owned by Merrick & Company) that produces more than 1 million gallons of ethanol per year. Ethanol is extracted from waste beer at the brewery through two stills. The end result is 200 proof, or essentially pure, ethanol. This pure ethanol is then mixed with gasoline to reduce automobile emissions. This process reduces the amount of wastewater treated at the wastewater treatment plant and reuses ethanol made at the brewery.
Landfill-Free Standards and Definitions
Because of our industry-leading success in reducing waste, we have been invited to participate on industry panels to help educate other organizations on becoming landfill-free. We are participating on an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) independent standards and definitions panel to define what it means to be landfill-free. We have also joined the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council’s Business Advisory Board, whose first goal is to develop a standardized third-party business certification program to recognize and motivate policies and practices for zero waste in the U.S.