WABA Panel: Becoming Carbon Neutral June 2022

In the face of climate change, breweries are focusing on how to improve sustainability, through carbon neutrality.

Many breweries including Matilda Bay Brewery, Moon Dog Craft Brewing and Capital Brewing Co. are carbon neutral-certified, but the challenge in getting there can be insurmountable. Learning how to work towards carbon neutrality was one of the topics discussed at the WA Brewers Association’s Beer & Brewing conference in Perth.

The panel line-up included Mel Holland, manager of planning, sustainability and environment at Rocky Ridge Brewing Co. and Michaela Hermanova, Carbon Active Certification consultant for Ndevr Environmental.

While becoming carbon neutral is better for the environment, Hermanova explained it’s beneficial for businesses as well on a strategic level.

“I think a really valuable part of becoming carbon neutral and becoming carbon neutral through climate active, is joining the carbon neutral supply chain,” she said.

“As consultants, we have a lot of businesses coming to us who are looking to become carbon neutral themselves, they’re looking to become carbon neutral organisations, or they’re looking to run carbon neutral events.

“They are actively looking for other carbon neutral businesses to partner with to help promote their own carbon neutrality by putting out all the marketing and then saying ‘we’re partnered with the beer for this event is fully carbon neutral and provided by x.’”

Rocky Ridge’s Mel Holland agreed and said it’s also important to be transparent as a business.

“It gives you that transparency in your own business, and it gives you the transparency to the consumer.

“So one: you can market that and two: you can fix issues in your own supply network or your own internal manufacturing that you can see where there might be some wastage that you don’t need to have, or you might see a more efficient way to do something.”

The process

Before approaching the challenge of carbon neutrality, it’s important to have data readily available, according to Ndevr Environmental’s Michaela Hermanova.

“Data is very, very important and the better you have your data organised to begin with, the easier that process is for us and for yourselves as well,” she said.

Rocky Ridge’s Mel Holland agreed.

“As brewers, we have amazing suppliers, we also spend a lot of money with our suppliers, so we put a lot of onus back on some of their record-keeping as well,” she said.

“We found that a really good time to do it was actually at the end of financial year, because you’re already summarising everything, you’re already doing all that stuff for your tax purposes.”

In terms of carbon offsetting, while an important factor, Hermanova explained it’s costly and can’t be solely relied on.

“The purpose of becoming carbon neutral or Climate Active is to reduce your emissions where you can and then purchase offsets for where you can’t reasonably reduce,” she said.

“So it’s [carbon offsetting] definitely not meant to be kind of a crutch to lean on indefinitely, especially, as the offset prices are going up, and they’re probably going to keep going up.

“I think that’s important to remember, that the ultimate goal of becoming carbon neutral is not to just buy some offsets and continue doing what you’re doing.

“It’s to really try and reduce your emissions where you can and go through the process of understanding what your hotspots are, and what that looks like.”

While becoming certified is a path many breweries have chosen, simply working towards carbon neutrality is suitable for businesses too, as was the case with Rocky Ridge.

“’You can have a carbon neutral product, you don’t have to carbon neutralise your whole business,” Holland said.

“So it’s all about what’s sustainable for your business as far as financials as well, as you know, making sure you’re protecting the environment the best way you can.”

For smaller businesses, starting with attainable goals is a good way to work towards being sustainable, as Holland explained.

“Simple things like trying to remove plastic side streaming, separating things, buying local. It might be a little bit more expensive to buy that product, but then you don’t have the freight emissions coming from hundreds of kilometres away that you’ve got to offset.”

For the brewing industry specifically, packaging is another area that can be looked at to reduce emissions, according to Hermanova.

“For beers specifically, it’s that packaging is quite emissions intensive, specifically glass. I know cans are a lot less emissions intensive, ” she said.

“So that’s something to consider as well, if you’re launching a new product. That’s a great place to save emissions as well.”

Listen below to the full panel discussion from the WA Beer & Brewing Conference which is proudly brought to you by Bintani Australia.

Back to Podcasts