Drinking a local craft beer isn’t just good for your taste buds – it’s good for your carbon footprint too
The first published carbon footprint assessment of a beer by a small craft brewery – a Pale Ale produced by The Kernel brewery – has shown there are many carbon-saving benefits of drinking a local beer, such as the Kernel Pale Ale, as opposed to a big-brand lager.
This news is unlikely to sway the average lager-drinker to preferring craft beer. However, craft beer environmentalists can be assured that the climate change impact of a bottle of The Kernel Brewery’s Pale Ale can be around 27% lower than the average European bottled beer. Better still, Cool World Consulting’s report found that choosing to drink a pint of draught Kernel beer rather than a bottle reduces emissions by 48% over the life of the beer.
Unsurprisingly, with The Kernel Brewery’s focus on local distribution and selling direct to the customer where possible, emissions from distribution are low compared to the European average (BIER 2012) and other well-established breweries. Only 20% of The Kernel bottle sales are outside of London and 26% of sales are direct to the customer, which have zero emissions for the brewery.
However some other findings of Cool World Consulting’s report may be more surprising. For example:
- More than half the emissions of the Kernel’s bottled Pale Ale come from the production of the packaging, despite packaging only being one of the eight life cycle stages of the beer.
- The footprint could be reduced by around 13% if the bottle was made of green glass instead of amber.
- Brewery emissions are lower than industry averages – in fact they are in the top 10% for brewery energy efficiency – going against the general trend for smaller breweries to be less efficient.
The report on The Kernel’s kegged Pale Ale also found that switching from disposable ‘one way’ kegs (which are currently used) to stainless steel kegs for all distribution apart from export would reduce whole life emissions by around 5%.
So why is a carbon footprint useful?
Many companies do it voluntarily to gain the knowledge to develop more sustainable products that can stand out from their competitors or to enhance their brand. Some do it to measure their company energy use and work out where savings (in cost and energy) could be made. Larger companies have to audit their energy to comply with legislation.
But some companies like The Kernel brewery are just genuinely interested in the impact that their product has environmentally, as well as commercially. Once you have a clear idea of the climate change impact of your business or product, you can try and align your commercial and environmental strategies.
Whatever your reasons for doing it, understanding the climate change impact of your carbon footprint can be enlightening – and comparisons with industry averages and other carbon footprints can show you where and how changes could be made to improve your company’s or product’s footprint.
Cool World Consulting’s carbon footprint calculator for beer and breweries
Cool World Consulting understands that most small- and medium-sized breweries do not have the time or resources to undertake a carbon footprint assessment – which involves trawling through international standards for carbon footprinting and taking on the challenge of finding appropriate Government greenhouse gas conversion factors and carbon reporting guidance.
The learning from an in-depth research project with the Kernel Brewery has therefore been distilled into a carbon calculator which offers breweries a quick and affordable way to measure their impact, and see where the carbon ‘hotspots’ are.
If you would like to learn more about this carbon calculator or carbon reporting, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.