MillerCoors believes waste is simply a resource out of place and they are committed to finding ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle whatever and whenever they can. In 2009, they exceeded their 2015 goal for waste reduction by eliminating 20 percent of the amount of waste sent to landfill.
More than 99% of all brewery waste – including glass, paperboard, plastics, metals and byproducts - is recycled or reused at MillerCoors. For example, leftover barley malt – or spent grain – is sold to local farms for animal feed while brewers’ yeast is sold to food companies for use in canned soups, gravies, frozen entrees and pet food. Some byproducts are used to fertilize hay fields on site, among others.
Three MillerCoors breweries – in Trenton, Ohio, Shenandoah, Virginia, and Irwindale, California – have achieved zero waste to landfill and currently are not sending any waste to the landfill.
At the Trenton, Ohio brewery, the key to zero waste to landfill success was making it about the people involved and their commitment and buy-in.
Denise Quinn, Tenton Brewery VP and Plant Manager, explains the key was asking key questions such as, “How can we make it [recycling] easy for the employees? How can we make it simple? How can we make it something that they can be proud of and look at what they’ve done with regards to the communities that they work and live in?”
Dave Klante, MillerCoors Vice President of Engineering & Packaging says the zero waste to landfill campaign is about employee involvement and engagement.
“It is really a culture change,” Klante says.
A: Why is zero waste so important to Miller-Coors? Well, it's more than just great beer. It's really about great responsibility in all the things that we do. We recycled and reused 99% of all the things that we consume at the brewery, and we're very pleased with that, and we're working right now to eliminate that last less than 1%.
We can take our grains and we can reuse them 100%. They end up in bioproducts, whether it's in feed, fuel, et cetera. It can be our [waste streams] in corrugate, fiberboard, crowns, containers, that kind of all gets recycled. We have three brewery that are tuning zero waste status right now, our Trenton, Ohio brewery, our Shenandoah Virginia brewery, and our Owendale, California brewery.
B: Trenton brewery is in the southwestern-most corner of Ohio. We actually started our zero waste initiative back in 2008. The goal was, "Could we achieve this in five years?" And the reality is, we were able to accomplish it in only two years.
You know, when you look at the other times that we have attempted recycling and reuse, we didn't really get the kind of buy-in that we needed to, and so the process this time was really the up-front work that said, "How can we be more successful? How can we make it easy for the employees? How can we make it simple? How can we make it something that they can be proud and look at what they have done with regard to the communities that they live and work in?" And those are the kinds of things that we did differently this time. It was really about the people and their commitment in buying.
A: It's really a culture change. You know, if we really think about this employee engagement and employee involvement, taking a look down to the individual level about what does recycle, how can we reuse it, and making choices of whether we really need to dispose this to a landfill.