As we celebrate the arrival of our friends Mijenta in the UK a premium tequila with environmental, sustainability and local community focus, we turn our attention to brewing.
Large breweries have been under the ‘ethical’ spotlight for violation of workers’ rights through to excess water consumption in drought areas, probably things that most consumers enjoying a beer on a Friday night wouldn’t associate with their drink. These are issues that need addressing, but probably won’t make it to a brand campaign. So, what should businesses just do and what should they lead?
Large global legacy brands, with big operational cogs turning to keep them afloat, can’t steer the oil tanker overnight, and certainly not with the agility of smaller ethical breweries, but they can use their scale and profits to change things for the better, and learn a little from the challenger brands.
Some businesses have approached this from the angle of what’s in their beer, whether it’s fair-trade organic ingredients like Little Valley Brewery, or repurposing waste and donating profits to charities like Toast.
Others have focussed on sustainable production like Hepworth Brewery which uses solar panels to generate energy and reed beds to dispose of the less harmful liquid waste as naturally as possible.
Hops and Grains uses wind power, engages with and supports the local Texan community through sharing resources (and even the odd beer), and donates 1% of annual revenue to environmental non-profits.
BrewDog is currently achieving negative CO2e through offsetting, and is moving towards renewable energy from wind, and using electric vehicles.
Sam Adams and New Belgium Brewery are supporting the LGTBQ+ community with donations of sales to GLAAD, which aims to build greater acceptance of the community through media and culture.
4 Pines Beer in Australia ensure their brewery by-products get diverted from landfill. Their spent yeast is transported off-site to an anaerobic digester and converted into renewable energy, producing green energy which is sold back to the grid. The majority of their spent grain is donated to organic local dairy farmers in New South Wales. Finally, a portion of their grain is donated to their friend Gabi who uses it to bake up tasty Craft Beer Bones craft beer bones for your dog!
When it comes to headline grabbing stories like turtles getting stuck in beer-can rings Saltwater’s edible packaging solved this with no initial media spend.
Back to the question of what should businesses just do and where should they lead?
There will be some things that end-consumers may not get so excited about but are the right things to do. If your factory is in a region with water stress, solve the stress problem. Or, if your carbon footprint is high due to long distance travel, think about more local solutions.
Then lead the things where the interests of consumers, customers, investors, and your brands collide. Ensure that you can do this authentically, in your own voice. By doing this you will build true Citizen Brands by bringing people together over doing the right thing, and not show up like you’re jumping on the bandwagon.
Finally in this new world of doing the right thing, sometimes doing the right thing (and enjoying it) is working together, as we have seen with the first bio based paper packaging. Salud!