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How green is your beer? Cool World Consulting launches the world’s first carbon footprint calculator for beer and breweries

By Lucy Harbor, Nov 6 2014 01:46PM

Cool World Consulting has developed the world’s first carbon calculator for beer and breweries. This calculator offers breweries a quick and affordable way to measure the impact of their organisation and products.


This calculator is based on the learning from an in-depth research project with The Kernel Brewery, which assessed and compared the whole life footprint of its Pale Ale in different packaging types, and looked in particular at the brewery’s emissions and how they compare with industry averages.


Evin O'Riordain, the owner of The Kernel Brewery, said: "Assessing the carbon footprint of our beers was important for us. It allowed us to see which elements of the life of our beers have the biggest impact on climate change. Lucy tested the impact of different variables - such as recycled content and glass colour of the bottles, reusable vs. one-way kegs, and distribution methods and distances - so we could clearly see which potential changes to our processes would significantly reduce our impact, and which would have little impact. "


Why is this carbon calculator needed?


The climate change impact of the production and consumption of alcohol (the majority of which is beer) is significant – it is responsible for an estimated 1.5% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions .


Some legislation exists which requires large companies to report their carbon emissions. However, as Tara Garnett of the Climate Food Network points out,: “there is a mismatch between government policies - mainly the Climate Change Agreements which seek to address brewing and malting emissions - and the most problematic areas of concern, these being transport and the hospitality sector.” By assessing the whole life footprint of products, this problem can be overcome.


Most big breweries have established sustainability strategies and commitments to reduce emissions over the coming years. However in the UK the number of breweries is currently at a 70-year high, and most of the recently-established breweries are classified as ‘small breweries’ . While environmental sustainability could be said to be one of the central ethics of a small, independent brewery – creating local jobs and helping to boost the local economy – many small breweries do not have the resources to trawl through international standards for carbon footprinting and take on the challenge of finding appropriate Government greenhouse gas conversion factors and carbon reporting guidance.

With Cool World Consulting’s carbon footprint calculator, most of the hard work has already been done.

So why is a carbon footprint useful?


A carbon footprint is good for businesses as well as for the environment. It can help organisations to:


• Identify cost saving and efficiency opportunities;

• Make more sustainable decisions by testing how different variables (e.g. packaging types, distribution method or distance) impact on the overall footprint;

• Compare their performance to industry averages;

• Align their commercial and environmental goals; and

• Enhance their brand by demonstrating environmental and corporate social responsibility.


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