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Alcohol’s Next Innovation: ESG

The ever-evolving alcohol industry seems to be at the forefront of yet another major innovation, this time embracing sustainability with a focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives. We see this through the installation of renewable energy production on-site, the incorporation of recycled materials in packaging and the embracement of like-minded enterprises to serve as suppliers, vendors and business partners. How else can alcohol industry members build sustainability into their production process?

Recent evidence suggests that finding ways to contribute some of the waste streams from the production of alcohol to the production of biogas may be the answer. Some examples of this trend are listed below.

  • Biogas is produced from converting waste materials (livestock manure, food waste and brewery waste) into methane gas, which can be used as a heating fuel or more broadly as a feedstock for electricity production. Spent grain from beer production can be a great source for biogas generation.
  • The Molly Pitcher brewery in Carlisle, Pennsylvania has teamed up with the Dickinson College Farm to supply grain waste to a digester facility that is creating clean, burnable methane gas. One of this partnership’s ultimate goals is to power Dickinson College and some local dairy farms exclusively through biogas produced from brewer’s grain from Molly Pitcher, cow manure from local dairy farms and food waste from Dickinson College.
  • At South Australia Water’s Glenelg Wastewater Treatment Plant near Adelaide in South Australia, expired beer is being used to power digesters at the site and contribute to powering 1,200 homes. The beer is proving to be a highly efficient ingredient to feed the digesters and has fueled record energy generation at the plant.
  • In a similar trend for a parallel industry, both Jim Beam and Jack Daniels have recently entered partnerships with a biogas producer to build a biogas production facility and use still from the whiskey production process to create biogas. This biogas is intended to power the adjacent distilleries and potentially the surrounding neighborhoods as well.

These are just a few examples of how alcohol industry participants are reducing their carbon footprints and being more resourceful in disposing of waste products and powering their facilities. For smaller industry members, teaming up with others to form a co-op or consortium to pursue these opportunities may help build scale and share costs.

Additionally, there are a whole host of renewable energy tax credits that may be available to alcohol industry members in connection with these types of projects, and we are actively helping clients find ways to obtain, maximize and potentially transfer those credits.

Our alcohol, renewable energy and tax teams work together to take these initiatives from an idea to executed contracts and subsequent development. Reach out to our authors if you’d like to learn more and see how you can be part of the beer-to-biogas movement.

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Key Takeaways | Going Green: Environmental and Sustainability Risks and Opportunities for Alcohol Companies

In a recent webinar, Alva MatherJacob HollingerCarl Fleming and Parker Lee guided attendees through the unique energy-related challenges and opportunities for alcoholic beverages companies presented by current megatrends relating to environmental, social and governance (ESG), carbon and sustainability.

Some of the significant topics discussed included:

  1. Sustainability Trends
  2. Related Trapdoor Risks
  3. Sustainability Opportunities Across the Alcohol and Other Industries
  4. New Tax Opportunities Under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2023
  5. Case Study: Beam Suntory’s Renewable Energy-Powered Jim Beam Expansion

Access the webinar and key takeaways.

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