Big Shed Brewing wins sustainability award

Last month, Big Shed Brewing Concern was awarded the 2022 Promoting Sustainability Award for South Australia as part of Telstra’s Best of Business Awards.

Co-founder and director of consumer business and marketing for the brewery, Craig Basford, said it was a humbling experience having been recognised for the award.

“When we walk around the brewery, we see nothing but the things that need to be fixed. So when an opportunity like this comes along, we actually sit back and look at the things we have done, and to have that recognised by external people, it’s really humbling,” he said.

As part of its efforts to be sustainable, the brewery installed a 200kW solar system onsite at its new venue in Royal Park. But for Big Shed, the path to improving sustainability started with smaller, attainable goals, as Basford explained.

“We thought, ‘let’s do what we can do.’ It’s the simple things,” he said.

“For example, we collect rainwater on our roof and we use that to wash down the brewery floor. We also direct the hot air that comes off our glycol units on the cold days, into our front of house to warm it up and on the hot days, we direct it outside, so it doesn’t affect the air conditioning.

“It’s not something that’s earth shattering. But for us, it’s about doing what we can do. I think if every small business did that, and didn’t get overawed by the scale of the problem, we’d be in a lot better state.”

A sustainable industry

Over the past few years, more breweries have started to shift focus and invest in improving sustainability within their businesses. Most recently, Helios’ Brewing was awarded the Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Award for Sustainability in Business for its efforts. There’s still a long way to go however, as Basford highlighted, due to how difficult it can be to prioritise.

“We’re two years deep in it and when it almost gets down to the moment, it feels like we’re in survival mode,” he explained.

The key to improving sustainability first starts with a mindset change, according to Basford.

“Focus on what things you can do, no matter how small it is, it all helps,” he said.

“Look around and think, ‘how can we save a bit of water?’ Or ‘how can we use a little less energy?’ and like I said, if it’s a small thing, it all helps.

“Ideally, if you’re growing and you’re getting bigger, or becoming profitable, you’ve got more money to invest, you can then buy those bigger ticket items that helps both your cash flow and the environment.”

While there’s still a way to go, Basford predicts sustainability will be on the forefront of more businesses’ minds in the coming years.

“The ethos of independent breweries is one of community. So, our focus is very much on the local community in terms of our footprint.

“But I also think consumers will drive it. People want to know where their products are coming from and the stories behind it. They also want to know that the businesses they’re supporting are trying to do the right thing environmentally, for the future.”

In terms of the future, the next step for Big Shed is attending the nationals iteration of the awards in Sydney next month as the brewery aims to continue improving upon its sustainability efforts.

“We’re still a young brewery, being eight years old, we’re still growing into our new skin. Which means we actually don’t have a lot of spare cash kicking around to do really cool things in terms of our sustainability,” Basford said.

“It’s about keeping an eye on things and working out what we can do to help make our business more sustainable environmentally and economically.”

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