Canal Winchester: BrewDog sees carbon-negative plan as industry catalyst

Scott Gerfen
ThisWeek
BrewDog Brewery and Taproom, 96 Gender Road in Canal Winchester, is on its way to becoming the first carbon-negative international beer business. By the end of next year, the brewery is expected to have solar panels powering its central Ohio campus, including the 32-room DogHouse hotel, and a delivery fleet of electric vehicles.

BrewDog, which built the world’s first craft-beer hotel at its U.S. home in Canal Winchester, is on track to be the world’s first carbon-negative international beer business. 

“Our carbon. Our problem. So we are going to fix it ourselves,” BrewDog cofounder James Watt said in announcing the company’s global plans in August. “Huge change is needed right now, and we want to be a catalyst for that change in our industry and beyond.” 

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By the end of next year, the Scottish-based craft brewery expects to have solar panels powering its central Ohio campus, including the 32-room DogHouse hotel, and a delivery fleet of electric vehicles. 

A hops farm, which will include an apple orchard (the company also owns the Hawkes cider brand), is planned for 2022. 

It’s all part of BrewDog’s groundbreaking climate-action program, with $39 million in “green” investments across its business. 

Jason Block, CEO of BrewDog USA.

“Historically, we thought we were doing a good job with sustainability,” said Jason Block, BrewDog USA CEO. “We try to minimize our waste; we try to consume less energy; we were making a good-faith effort. But when we really looked under the hood at what our carbon footprint is and what it’s going to take for everybody, not just BrewDog, to get things back on a better path for the planet, it became clear we weren’t doing nearly enough.” 

Being carbon-negative means BrewDog plans to take twice as much carbon out of the air as it emits. 

“A lot of great businesses talk a great talk about this, but are we actually doing the things that are needed to help save the planet?” Block said. 

According to information from the company, BrewDog created its plan with the help of one of the world’s leading experts in carbon footprinting and sustainability. English researcher and writer Mike Berners-Lee is a professor and fellow of the Institute for Social Futures at Lancaster University. 

The brewer stresses “total transparency” in implementing the initiative, Block said.  

“Not only is BrewDog sharing its carbon footprint but also our supply chain on the front end and our distribution network on the back end,” he said. 

BrewDog purchased a 2,050-acre site in the Scottish Highlands, where it will begin planting 1 million trees early next year and rebuilding 650 acres of peatland over the next few years. 

Until the forest matures and trees can remove carbon from the air, company officials said BrewDog will work with verified carbon-offset partners such as the Nature Conservancy of Canada to help eliminate the carbon footprint. 

The brewer also plans to create a sustainable campsite on its Scottish Highlands land, hosting sustainability retreats and workshops for the public, in addition to inviting its 130,000 Equity Punks investors to help with planting trees. 

In September, BrewDog also launched the fourth round of its Equity for Punks crowdfunding campaign to raise at least $2.5 million for its sustainability projects, which included opening a wastewater-treatment plant and installing an anaerobic digester to convert wastewater into clean water at its Canal Winchester location. 

According to information from BrewDog, switching locally to an electric-vehicle fleet could come in June 2021. The solar panels are projected by August 2021, and the wastewater treatment is targeted for November 2021.  

All these projects will help BrewDog reduce its carbon emissions and be more sustainable as a business, Block said.  

The brewer operates more than 100 bars across the globe and exports into 60 countries. 

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