Established in 1980 with the mission to brew the highest quality beer with the least environmental impact possible, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. has been reducing waste and reusing materials in creative and thoughtful ways ever since. Sierra Nevada’s closed loop approach promotes a zero waste philosophy that extends beyond just solid waste, becoming a culture rather than a program. Sierra Nevada focuses on employee education, upstream management, and source separation to achieve their zero waste goals. Sierra Nevada currently diverts 99.7% of their total solid waste from landfill and has a robust training program that reaches every single employee.
Sierra Nevada’s Mills River, North Carolina brewery composts green waste onsite and partners with a local composter to divert all food waste from the landfill. To reduce packaging waste and transportation emissions, malted barley is delivered to the brewery via railcar. Waste generated during fermentation (in the form of CO2 gas) is recovered and reused at the brewery. Mills River also helped establish the Western North Carolina Brewery Recycling Cooperative, which created infrastructure for the area’s 80+ breweries to recycle common industry wastes currently going to landfill.
In 2022, Mills River saw a net savings of roughly $127,000 (excluding spent brewers grain) from their zero waste program.