CHICAGO — MillerCoors is showcasing its environmental friendliness by taking its Golden Brewery landfill free.
The company, which has taken four of its other breweries landfill-free, has eliminated an average of 135 tons of waste monthly that was previously sent to landfill.
Beginning in 2011, MillerCoors began reducing the municipal waste sent from the Golden Brewery to landfill, complementing process improvements with nearly $1 million in new infrastructure and equipment, including new choppers, bailers and compactors. The brewery beneficially reuses or recycles 100% of waste, including all glass, paperboard, plastics, metal and brewing byproducts, such as spent grain. Residual refuse, such as cafeteria waste and floor sweepings, is sent to a waste-to-energy facility and used as an alternative fuel source to generate electricity.
"Environmental stewardship is part of our company DNA, and we challenge ourselves daily to be more sustainable throughout our operations," said MillerCoors CEO Tom Long. "Through our commitment to continuously improving, we've found a way to eliminate trips to the landfill and developed a zero waste model that's scalable to our other facilities."
Longtime MillerCoors brewery employee Kelly Harris was a driving force in the efforts. As a shop floor technician, Harris noticed small process changes could lead to large waste reductions. After conducting research, he developed and implemented a waste-reduction business plan that in 2010 led MillerCoors Trenton, Ohio, brewery to become the company's first landfill-free facility and the world's first zero waste mega-brewery. Three other MillerCoors breweries — Shenandoah, Irwindale and Eden — have also achieved landfill-free status.
"There's a misperception that sustainable manufacturing is expensive, but employee behaviors are really the key to efficiently and affordably making the change," Harris said. "Working alongside brewery leadership, we developed a way to do things differently and implemented new manufacturing processes at the brewery. We've proven that there's an alternative place for all waste, even at one of the world's largest breweries."
The company is working to implement similar changes at its other facilities.