AFTER successfully taking four breweries landfill-free in recent years, beer giant MillerCoors announced that it has also achieved landfill-free status at the largest brewery in the U.S.
The effort eliminated an estimated 135 tons of waste per month from its Golden, Colo., brewery that would have otherwise been sent to a local landfill.
Beginning in 2011, MillerCoors worked to reduce the quantity of municipal waste sent from the Golden Brewery to landfill, implementing process improvements and $1 million in new infrastructure and equipment, including new choppers, balers and compactors. Golden now reuses or recycles 100% of its waste, including all glass, paperboard, plastics, metal and brewing byproducts such as spent grain.
Even residual refuse, such as cafeteria waste and floor sweepings, is sent to a waste-to-energy facility and used as a fuel source to generate electricity. A waste reduction and process improvement effort led MillerCoors' Trenton, Ohio, brewery to become the company's first landfill-free facility in 2010; its breweries in Elkton, Va.; Irwindale, Cal., and Eden, N.C., have each achieved landfill-free status since then.
"There's a misperception that sustainable manufacturing is expensive, but employee behaviors are really the key to efficiently and affordably making the change," said Kelly Harris, the MillerCoors employee credited with leading the landfill-free charge. "Working alongside brewery leadership, we developed a way to do things differently and implemented new manufacturing processes. We've proven that there is an alternative place for all waste, even at one of the world's largest breweries."