‘It’s a sustainability journey’: Bench Brewery’s mission to reduce wastewater and become carbon neutral

·2 min read

Brewing beer is a thirsty business. On average, it takes around eight litres of water to brew a single litre of beer.

But one Niagara brewery is on a mission to half that.

When Bench Brewing opened its brewery in Beamsville in 2018, the team was eager to make sure the operations wasted as little water as possible.

“Right off the bat, we knew we wanted to preserve water,” explained founder Matt Giffen.

The issue was compounded by the fact that the brewery is in a rural location. It's not connected to the municipal wastewater system, so it would have had to haul two truckloads of water to the treatment plant per day.

The team was so concerned about the problem it set an ambitious target: to reduce water usage so the brewery used only four litres per litre of beer — half the industry standard.

That meant designing the entire brewery with water management in mind.

Two wastewater treatment plants were built, and an irrigation system was constructed to use the water to grow hops and fruit on site.

Since irrigation isn’t needed in the winter months, a kilometre-long underground pipeline was constructed to move the water into a retention pond to store until spring.

The team even thought about how the cleaning process could be improved and started using less water-intensive ways to clean the equipment.

In all, it means they cut water usage down to an estimated 4.5 litres of water per litre of beer, and 15,000 litres of water are reused per day.

But they’re not stopping there. “We want to continue to get better,” said Giffen. “It’s a sustainability journey; you’re never going to stop. We’re going to continue and strive to get better.”

For the brewery, that means also looking at greenhouse gas emissions and creating a green culture across the business.

The company partnered with Radicle, a Calgary-based firm that helps businesses reduce their carbon emissions and become carbon neutral.

Everything was examined, from the power used to run the brewery to the emissions created by employees on their commute.

By making changes across the brewery, it reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 69 per cent between 2019 and 2020, according to Radicle.

However, it wasn’t quite enough to achieve carbon neutrality so the team at Bench opted to purchase carbon offsets, in part by funding a solar plant in India. By doing so, it reached its goal of being carbon neutral.

Giffen stressed changes are not being made just to look good or greenwash the company’s image: “We did it for the reason that we believe in it,” he said. “We’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do.”

Chris Pickles, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grimsby Lincoln News

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting