More than 50 years ago, Bill Coors offered consumers a penny per can to persuade them to recycle their beer cans. Today, MillerCoors carries on that spirit in its waste reduction and recycling efforts.
Like all MillerCoors breweries, the Golden, Colorado Brewery already reuses or recycles more than 99 percent of its waste, including spent grain, glass, aluminum, plastic, wood and other materials. Now the brewery is setting its sights on the last one percent of waste that ends up in the municipal landfill.
While MillerCoors has set the goal of reducing waste to landfill by 50 percent enterprise-wide by 2015, the Colorado Brewery is determined to join four other MillerCoors breweries that have achieved “zero to landfill” status. That means the brewery is looking for innovative ways to reduce, reuse or eliminate every product, component and material that would normally be thrown away in the garbage pile.
“It’s the right thing to do,” says Colorado Brewery’s Environmental Health and Science Engineer Fred Linton. “It’s our culture.”
With the guidance and best practices of the other MillerCoors breweries that have achieved the “zero waste to landfill” status, the Colorado Brewery didn’t have to look far for a great model.
“There’s no sense in us recreating the wheel,” explains Fred. “They’ve got a great standard that we can follow – and that’s what we’re going to do!”
In 2007, the Ohio Brewery put together a business plan to decrease its waste by 50 percent.
“Right away, we saw a significant decrease in what was going to the landfill,” says Kelly Harris, the Ohio Brewery’s Sustainable Development Coordinator. “So we took our business plan and revised it to become landfill free in five years.”
However, it took the brewery only 23 months to achieve their environmental goal!
Harris explains that the keys to success were having a good but simple system in place, and enthusiastic and dedicated employees educated about the benefits of zero waste to landfill. The brewery also used a number of tactics to change key behaviors.
For example, strong visual cues, such as color-coded bins were introduced in the brewery. All of the trashcans and trash hoppers were red – the color of stop signs – to prompt employees to stop and think before they tossed anything away. For scrap wood, bins were painted green to symbolize the leaf of a tree, and bins for cardboard were painted the familiar light brown color of corrugated cardboard.
Ohio included another innovative and successful measure – every trash can was removed from offices and replaced with recycling centers in hallways, copy rooms and other communal spots.
For the initiative at the Colorado Brewery to succeed, the company understands that everyone will need to be involved. The brewery is kicking off the program with educational events and activities that will give employees a chance to learn more about the program; see the waste the plant generates and how they can recycle it; and participate right away by painting bins and collection containers. Once the program gets rolling, Colorado will offer rewards and incentives to keep everyone excited and engaged.
“We’re aiming for 2015 to accomplish becoming a zero-to-landfill brewery but don’t be surprised if we hit that goal ahead of time,” Fred shares. “We want to give our employees one more thing to be proud of when they come to work for MillerCoors at the Golden Brewery – and our customers yet another reason to pick up one of our great beers.”
Check back on the Colorado Brewery’s progress, and learn about MillerCoors sustainability efforts at www.greatbeergreatresponsibility.com