Manuscript Cleaner Production in Brewery – The Catalysts Group

Manuscript Cleaner Production in Brewery


Water is a shared resource and essential for everyone on this planet. Without water brewery
won’t exist as beer is 95% water. As global demand for water continues to rise, it is the
responsibilities of all of us to minimize water footprint.

The brewing process is energy intensive and uses large volumes of water. In the process,
large quantities of water are used for the production of beer itself, as well as for washing,
cleaning and sterilising of various units after each batch are completed. A large amount of
this water is discharged to the drains. The main water use areas of a typical brewery are
brewhouse, cellars, packaging and general purpose. Water use attributed to these areas
includes all water used in the product, tank washing, general washing and cleaning in place
(CIP); which are of considerable importance both in terms of water intake and effluent

Similarly, effluent to beer ratio is correlated to beer production. It has been shown that the
effluent load is very similar to the water load since none of this water is used to brew beer
and most of it ends up as effluent.

A mass balance is depicted in Fig. 1, which represents water and energy inputs and also the outputs with respect to residues and sub-products, liquid effluents and air emissions. Residues similar to urban residues, simple industrial residues, glass, paper, cardboard, plastic, oils, wood, biological sludge, green residues, etc. are classified as solid wastes; surplus yeast and spent grains are considered sub-products. Brewer’s spent grains are generally used for the production of low value composts; cattle feed or disposed of in landfill as waste.

In the brewhouse, where mashing and wort boiling are the main heat consuming processes with high fuel consumption. The conservation of fossil fuel resources will help reduce CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion, greenhouse gas emissions, and possible climate changes due to these emissions. Cleaner production (CP) is continuously advocated for in Brewery in order to reduce consumption and emissions.

For an effective CP, brewery should go green by adopting new brewing technology with efficient energy consumption, reduction in odour emission, efficient water consumption for cleaning and cooling purposes, reduction of losses, and the reuse of treated wastewater.

Most technologically advanced equipment and other human activities have extremely damaged the environment and its elements such as water, air, land and others. With this complexity, international organisations have established a system which ensures that all countries are adhering to the need for environmental sustainability. Environmental issues are a critical factor for today’s industry competitiveness. Redesigning of the process; recovery of by-products or reuse of effluents are considered as some of the reasonable actions towards an eco-efficient approach. The most significant environmental issues associated with the operation phase of breweries include water consumption, waste water (effluent), solid waste and by-products, energy use and emissions to air. It is need of the hour to critically review the environmental challenges faced by the breweries during brewing process and to provide suggestions on how to reduce the impact of brewing operations on the environment.

The drive to move towards sustainable development has shifted from the environmental to the mainstream political agenda in recent years as it has become quite apparent that some environmental effects of development have global impacts but only localised benefits. Global environmental changes such as ozone depletion and carbon dioxide increase are caused by a relatively small proportion of the earth’s population yet affect every society. This awareness was reflected in the significant political concerns expressed at the 1997 Greenhouse Conference in Kyoto, Japan.

Latest Concepts – Waste Management Hierarchy

Cleaner Production – Concept

In brewing industry, there are much scope on energy savings, water usage reductions, packaging minimisation or elimination, process efficiency improvements. Constitution of cleaner production practices are only possible as long as initiatives focus on reducing the consumption of raw materials, or the generation of waste materials. It is only end-of-pipe solutions which generally just shift the pollution from one environmental stream to another that should be differentiated.

For the brewing industry to move towards sustainable operation it will need to do more than incrementally improve existing processes, even though such activities are of great value, both environmentally and economically. It also needs to look at the fundamentals of the process and determine if there are alternate ways of producing the same product which are characteristically “cleaner”.

Brewing sustainability, it is clear that several independent breweries are attempting to change industry-wide standards of efficiency. From ideological standards to enforced water regulation, new breweries have clear motivation to increase the efficiency of their operations. By providing reduced production cost, increased economic stimulation, and improved environmental conditions; sustainability auditing is a clearly beneficial investment for any brewery or water related industry looking to improve their operation capacity. The current market-shift seen across the brewing industry is the main motivation for this comparative analysis using these 4 criteria to define the modern sustainable brewery:

  • Water Utilization
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Production Methods
  • Distribution Methods

Reducing the water use intensity across the global breweries has shown a strong commitment to sustainability, inspired by the drought and climate conditions, resulted in a brewery-wide challenge to produce beers with a 4:1 water use to finished beer ratio – meaning that for every 4 liters of water utilized, 1 liter of finished beer is produced. Through the utilization of water sub-metering technology, it is possible to extrapolate the total water use from brewing, compare this to the final volume of production each year, and calculate the water efficiency ratio.

Brewery wastewater is relatively simple and is highly biodegradable. However. a complicating factor is that wastewater volumes, pH, and concentrations of included solids vary constantly.

The suspended solids in the effluent contain organic matter such as grain, trub, yeast, and label pulp as well as inorganic materials such as filter aids and silica gel. Dissolved solids are mainly from beer, wort, and cleaning and sanitizing solutions. The BOD is usually used to index the concentration of biodegradable organics in brewery waste streams. BOD determinations are cumbersome and not very accurate. However, BOD is being used to assess the pollution potential of waste waters and have become the basis for design and operation of wastewater (effluent) treatment plant (ETP).

Wastewater from a brewery may be discharged several ways:

  • Directly into a river; 
  • Directly into a municipal sewer system; 
  • Into a river or municipal system after pre-treatment; 
  • Into the brewery’s own waste water treatment plant.

Discharges into public waters are often subject to limitations in organic load, suspended solids, pH, temperature, and chlorine. Now a days, it is mandatory for the breweries to construct a complete wastewater treatment facility to treat the effluent generated. The high costs that are often required for waste treatment offer breweries an additional challenge to eliminate unnecessary wastes and to optimize the reuse of effluents.

Many breweries have made a concerted effort to reduce water usage in order to lower costs for water, water treatment chemicals, and waste water treatment cost based on flow. Not all wastewater requires treatment. For example, non-contact cooling water and rinse water for non-returnable bottles and cans, is relatively clean and may be discharged directly into a river or storm sewer depending on temperature and chlorine limitations.

In the process of brewing and packaging beer, the generation of by-products and waste products is unavoidable. Technological advances and improved microbiological control over the more than 3 decades have enabled the breweries to reduce product losses and to produce valuable by-products from materials that were previously considered waste products.

Opportunities for Upgrading Waste Products

Waste Product

By-Product Type Waste Product Method of Disposal
Wort Condensed soluble Waste treatment
Beer Fuel ethanol Waste treatment
Surplus yeast Feed yeast Waste treatment
Waste treatment sludge Fertilizer Land fill

It reveals that there is significant economic advantage derived from minimizing product losses or upgrading waste products to by-products.

Breweries, especially packaging plants produce large amounts of solid waste materials, much of which can be recycled or used alternatively. These materials include broken pallets, aluminium (canning), cullet (glass bottles), corrugated paper, paper labels, and crown corks.

The alternative to recycling is the disposal of solid waste in landfill sites, which might be costly at times. Recycling, on the other hand, requires labour, sorting equipment, and space. Employee involvement is essential for a successful recycling program.

Even with good waste management, a typical brewery has a waste water volume of 4.5 hl/hl of packed beer.

Energy efficiency is an important component of a brewery’s environmental strategy. End-of-pipe solutions can be expensive and inefficient while energy efficiency can often be an inexpensive opportunity to reduce criteria and other pollutant emissions. Energy efficiency can be an effective strategy to work towards the so-called “triple bottom line” that focuses on the social, economic, and environmental aspects of a business.

Cleaner Production – To Sustainability

Every industry should emphasis on the activities and plans of “Cleaner Production” methods, simply because to achieve the goal of “Clean Production” over a time.

Cleaner production has been proven to be economically attractive to the industries which have adopted it. The 3M-3P program (Pollution Prevention Pays) is the most widely known, and Coors Brewing Co. has also achieved recognition and success through its SCRAP program (Save, Conserve, Reduce and Profit). As the costs of environmental effects are increasingly built into the cost of raw materials, pollutant emissions and product ownerships, cleaner production will become an increasingly economic imperative as well as a policy and regulatory requirement.

Thus, a cleaner production policy is just good business for competent and successful manufacturing operations in the world today. While considerable success in:

  • Resource utilisation reduction
  • Energy minimisation
  • Yield improvement
  • Product and intermediate substitution

can be expected to occur over the next several decades as a result of cleaner production policies and incentives.

The immense range of ratios of water taken in to beer produced is chiefly due to different efficiencies of water use, although some breweries, e.g., those that bottle a high proportion of their beer in returnable bottles, (which must be cleaned), are at a disadvantage. To control waste, it is necessary to meter the volume and composition of the wastewater from every department and the brewery as a whole, to detect and prevent wasteful practices.

With the implementation of sustainable brewing techniques, small breweries have the potential to improve the overall efficiency of brewing practices. This would provide a significant benefit to businesses and the environment. Based on established benchmarks, one of the most important first steps towards maintaining efficiency standards is to begin auditing and install metering capabilities. There is a strong relationship between metering, which provides the ability to examine resource use intensity, and conscious improvement toward areas of energy or water waste. The ability to examine efficiency within the brewery will provide a better understanding of operations, and determined a baseline ratio to work on improving.

From implementing an audit to assess the efficiency within a brewery and set goals, modifying production and distribution processes will help to achieve overall improvements.

One of the greatest improvements will be achieved within a brewery is the purchase and utilization of high-efficiency equipments specifically designed to eliminate all areas of waste, efficient brewing systems have the ability to reduce impact by a significant percentage. Not only can new technologies provide the ability to reduce waste, the utilization of old-world techniques can create a large impact as well. Efficient practices need to be established in a time where breweries simply could not afford to waste any raw material.

With the utilization of best practices, inspiring efficient practices across the brewing industry can create a massive impact from a financial and environmental perspective. Defining the modern sustainable brewery serves as a guide towards direct improvement of brewing processes. In conclusion, the brewing industry as a single actor has the direct potential to reduce their impact toward human health and the environment by increasing the efficiency of energy demand, improving water utilization, and implementing highly efficient production method.


The brewing industry appears to be going all out for sustainability. The solutions are already available, yet the real opportunity requires us to go beyond simple sustainability and efficiency initiatives, and develop a system-wide approach to industry change.

This level of growth also means that brewery operational footprints will increase the load on local infrastructure, communities and the environment. This can affect the industry’s license to operate, as well as the bottom line.

The pathway to expanding sustainable production is based on breweries operating within their local environmental, community and resource limits. This involves sustainable sourcing, as well as closed-loop operations powered by renewable energies, proactive watershed stewardship and responsible by-product management.

There are many benefits to be gained through enhancing the capabilities of individual breweries, the real power comes through developing and nurturing the entire breweries economic ecosystem – the interconnected organizations that build community impact, shared prosperity and long-term resilience for the benefit of all.

While commitments and initiatives from multinational breweries towards their definition of a more sustainable future are commendable, the current agenda simply scratches the surface. Incremental efficiency improvements are necessary, but they are not sufficient.

There are two key strategic sustainability challenges that are often overlooked:

  • Growth has to be sustainable -this means breweries need to deliver absolute decoupling between growth and their operational loading on local infrastructure, communities and the environment. 
  • To ensure the economic value generated is more equitably distributed. Warren Buffett summed it up nicely: “The tsunami of wealth didn’t trickle down. It surged upward.”

Across the brewing industry, there is a clear motive toward sustainable practices which cause a benefit for the environment as well as the business. This is highly pertinent to the industry by providing standards which breweries can strive for.

The brewing industry has the ability to provide benefits on every level from the environment to employees, communities, consumers, and other industries as well.

Brewing techniques from a time where eliminating waste was simply a matter of survival are now seen as an incredibly valuable way to produce more craft beer products while increasing the efficiency of production.

Brewery industries are small and medium enterprises but with a significant social and economic value. Therefore, their sustainability policy requires wastewater treatment systems with the best performance and the fact is that well known processes and technologies are available for such purpose. In order to meet strict constraints with respect to space, odors and minimal sludge production, considerable attention to be prioritize towards the anaerobic–aerobic digestors/reactors.

A sustainable development model is not only an imperative today but is also opening new opportunities for the industrial sector.


  • Handbook of Brewing, Edited by William A. Hardwick.
  • Perry’s Chemical Engineers’ Handbook (7th Edition), Robert H. Perry & Don W. Green.
  • Journal of Cleaner Production, XXX (2012), 1-12, ELSEVIER.
  • Sustainability in the Brewing Industry-The Greater Effect, Ben Weger, UG Honors Thesis, University of Colorado, Spring 2017.
  • Ecological Sustainability in the Brewery Industry, Russel Peel, Carlton & United Breweries, Australia, 1998.
  • Brewing-A Practical Approach (1st Edition), Bijay Bahadur, 2016.


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