Going Green: Capital Brewing Co.
This brewery is 1 of 3 in Australia to have achieved B Corp certification. Here's how Capital Brewing Co. did it.
From spent hops, yeast and grain to water waste and failed experiments poured down the drain, breweries generate a substantial amount of byproduct waste. Then there are all the emissions generated from packaging, freight and energy use.
In an effort to become more sustainable, Capital Brewing Co. has addressed them all.
Earlier this year it became 1 of only 3 breweries in Australia to obtain B Corp certification, smashing the assessment with a 102.4 score. For context, most companies average a score of 50.9.
Its efforts towards going green don't stop there either.
The brand has recently become 100% fully carbon-neutral and has plans to become zero waste. Plus, it gives back to the community by supporting grassroots organisations and local charities by helping raise funds through its Good Natured Community Fund.
You could say they're (sustainability) saints.
We caught up with co-founders and managing directors Tom Hertel and Lawrence Kain to see what it took for them to get to this point in their sustainability journey.
1. Capital Brewing Co. is officially B Corp-certified – congratulations! Why was being certified so important to you?
Gaining B Corp certification is a key milestone on our Good Natured Brews journey.
It allows us to confidently know we are offering our customers the knowledge that by picking up an ice-cold Capital brew from the pub, they are investing in a positive future.
2. Having taken 2 years to achieve B Corp certification, what were the biggest challenges you faced to get here?
B Corp is such an intensive process, supplying information for audit and ensuring we have practices in place that will be B Corp-approved took a fair bit of time.
One of the most exciting things to come out of the process and the most time-consuming was our environmental management plan that lays out a measurable step-by-step pathway on how we reduce our emissions.
3. You're also 100% carbon-neutral under the federal government's Climate Active program. Can you explain the initiatives in place to achieve and maintain this?
In 2021 we engaged carbon and energy management experts Pangolin Associates to conduct a life-cycle assessment of our entire operations – from raw materials such as aluminium, grain and hops to energy and water use, waste, freight, staff commuting and even every piece of paper used in the office.
After the results were independently audited and verified, we purchased certified carbon credits with the Orana Natural Capital Project (Australia's largest soil carbon project that protects the inhabitants of critically endangered ecosystems near Bendigo) to offset its CO2 emissions emitted during FY20/21.
4. On your website it says you're working towards becoming a zero-waste brewhouse. How do you plan to achieve this?
As part of a standard brewing process, there is quite a lot of waste involved across water, grain, hops and yeast. There are product losses from inefficient processes too.
At Capital, we have reviewed all aspects of waste and looked at ways in which we can reduce, reuse or recycle waste.
One great example of this is once finished with our spent grain, hops and yeast, we send it to Landtasia Organic Farm. The hops and yeast, which would otherwise go down the drain, are valuable in their compost production.
In 2020/21 this diverted 709 tonnes from being landfill to becoming a key ingredient in the farming process. This is an example of an initiative implemented across the business following our Good Natured Brews journey.
5. On top of all these sustainability initiatives, you're also giving back to the community such as by donating used cans through the Container Deposit Scheme. How else do you support the local community?
Our Good Natured Community Fund is a great example of one of the many initiatives to support the local community. It helps grassroots organisations raise much-needed funds.
In addition, we donate profits from sales of specialty brews to charitable causes. So far we've supported over 450 local groups and charities working hard to build community networks and infrastructure in the arts, music, sport, recreation and health.
6. You've worked with carbon and energy management experts at Pangolin Associates to create a template for other breweries to calculate, reduce and offset their emissions. What does that template look like and how has it been received?
We have had a lot of feedback from other breweries who are keen to use it and we know of a few who are actively working with Pangolin now on the journey to carbon neutrality.
The template reduces the time and cost involved in the life-cycle assessment and offsetting process for other brewers.
Ultimately, it helps everyone if more businesses engage in becoming carbon-neutral and seriously working to reduce their emissions. We all live in the same climate emergency.
7. What's next in terms of sustainability for Capital Brewing Co. and the brewery industry?
We are working really hard on implementing our environmental management plan to reduce our water consumption, CO2, cleaning chemical and natural gas use per litre of beer alongside reducing process wastage.
We have some key investments to make here in process equipment. We are also working with a small Australian grain farmer and boutique malt house to eliminate the use of the small quantity of imported malt we use – we will have more to report on this soon.
8. Do you have any tips or advice for people who wish to be more sustainable when they go out?
There are so many ways to make more positive sustainable choices across your life when out and about and at home.
First, buy less stuff and buy second-hand or recycled.
Look out for the B Corp and Climate Active – Carbon Neutral logos on any products or services you are purchasing. This is a great way to be confident you are making sustainable purchase decisions that have been reviewed and approved by credible organisations.
It helps to always use a reusable coffee cup or drink bottle and ride a bike, walk or ride-share to get to your destination.
Want more info and tips for making greener choices? Check out the Finder Green homepage.