Carbon neutral brewery

Julkaistu 22.05.2019 — Panimo Honkavuori

We want to be a small company that has an environmental strategy that matters.  Earlier this year we took one step forward to reduce our carbon footprint and bought 3,5 hectares of forest to compensate carbon dioxide emissions from the brewery.  

The main idea in the approach is to use brewery’s own forest to compensate carbon dioxide emissions from the beer brewing and other company’s activities, meaning mainly carbonation, heating and use of vehicles and electricity. We highlight companies own responsibility to compensate emissions from own activities. The model is very simple, since it considers the emissions from the brewery and not the production of the raw materials and emissions of other companies. In addition, we would like to challenge other companies to neutralise their carbon dioxide emissions with one way or another. The price of the forest plot was only 1% of the brewery’s revenue in 2018 and any company making profit should have resources to invest such a small share for the future. 

The Honkavuori forest is approximately 15 years old mixed forest. The carbon balance of the forest was calculated with Motti simulator and the uncertainty of various components in the calculation is minimised, says Associate Professor Ari Laurén from the University of Eastern Finland.  The estimate is conservative and most likely too low; therefore, the annual net sequestration of carbon dioxide is at least 27 tons per year for the coming five years, Laurén explains his calculations. 

Carbon dioxide emissions from the brewery originated from fermentation (2.9 tons), bottling and carbonation (4 tons), heating (3.4 tons) and from the use of the brewery van (2.8 tons), altogether 13.3 tons. Based on these calculations we can say that the brewery is not only carbon neutral but rather carbon negative.  

We are committed to manage the forest in a way that minimises greenhouse gas emissions in the long run. We will use the best available information to reach highest possible net gain in carbon balance. The decision on the use of the forest is not made yet and we strongly believe that active research in this field produces new information that helps us to do the right choices in the future. For example, the trees may be left in the forest in natural state or used as timber depending on which ever choice is giving highest net benefit for carbon dioxide sequestration from atmosphere in the long run. 

Sustainable use of natural resources is also important for us. The electricity for the brewing is produced by wind power, cooling energy is minimised by placing the coolers outside the building. In addition, cooling of the wort produces hot water that is collected for washing of the beer tanks. The aim is also to select packing materials from the renewable materials, for example the beer boxes and labels are made of paper-based materials rather than plastic Also, the clothes with the brewery’s logo are made of recycled cotton.