October 13, 2022
Kristel Sheesley and Maggie Haslam
Regional craft breweries will soon be seeing green—in their beermaking process and their bottom line—through a new project from the University of Maryland’s Environmental Finance Center (EFC) aimed at helping them adopt cost-saving strategies to reduce water, energy and chemicals in their operations.
Supported by a $350,000 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Pollution Prevention Grant, the project will target over 30 small breweries in or near struggling communities in northern Delaware and southeastern Pennsylvania, an area seeing a boom in small, independent craft breweries.
“Breweries are like any other small business and can be economic anchors, particularly in communities facing poverty,” said EFC Program Manager Kristel Sheesley who, with fellow Program Manager Jennifer Egan, selected areas that the EPA had flagged as high environmental justice concerns for the project. “They are really making a difference in these communities; our goal is to help them continue to grow.”
Breweries are not the biggest industry polluters, said Sheesley, but can be water- and energy-intensive; it takes roughly seven gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer. Biosolids produced in the beer-making process—a heady sludge of yeast, grain and other organic material—can place a heavy burden on wastewater treatment plants. Craft brewmasters, she said, tend to be sustainably minded but often don’t have the time to research best practices…
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