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. As of 2016, all of our major breweries are landfill-free, with the Fort Worth brewery most recently achieving this status by reducing waste by 66 percent for 2015.
Prior, our Milwaukee Brewery and Rocky Mountain Metal Container End Plant achieved landfill-free status in December 2014 by increasing recycling and switching to reusable rags. In addition, after several years of effort, Rocky Mountain Metal Plant achieved landfell-free status in December 2015, culminating with the elimination of 68 tons of waste that had previously gone to a landfill. With the addition of the End and Can Plants achieving landfill-free status, it puts us well on our way to achieving our goal of having all our major manufacturing facilities in the U.S. landfill-free by 2020.
Fort Worth Brewery Goes Landfill-Free
The Fort Worth Brewery sent its last load of waste to landfill in November 2015. Throughout 2015, the brewery eliminated approximately 672,000 pounds of waste by finding new ways to reuse or recycle waste.
With the help of new centralized compactors and standardized color coding for recycling containers, the Fort Worth Brewery was able to reduce waste by about 30 percent over the prior year and now generates less than 24,000 pounds of waste per month, which is shipped to a waste-to-energy facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma. All MillerCoors major breweries are now 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 participated on an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) independent standards and definitions panel to define what it means to be landfill-free. We also assisted the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council’s Business Advisory Board, whose first goal was to develop a standardized third-party business certification program to recognize and motivate policies and practices for zero waste in the U.S.