Heineken is turning wasted beer into green energy

The brand says it has stopped nearly 7 million pints worth of beer going down the drain

Ellie Abraham
Saturday 20 March 2021 06:00 GMT

When pubs closed a year ago as Boris Johnson announced the first lockdown, millions of pounds worth of stock suddenly went to waste.

Pubs and restaurants have remained largely closed throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) predicts that around 87 million pints will have been thrown away as a result.

In an innovative move to prevent their stock from going down the drain, the team at Heineken’s brewery in Manchester have found a way to convert surplus beer into energy.

The excess stock that was destined for pubs around the country has been recycled using a new piece of equipment.

Reversing the mechanism that would usually fill the kegs, the beer is taken out again and stored in empty vessels.

This excess beer is then drip-fed into the onsite waste water treatment plant and placed into an anaerobic digester that helps convert the beer into biogas, which is captured to produce this renewable and sustainable energy.

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The powerful combined heat and power unit which is housed inside a shipping container converts the biogas into heat and electricity.

The team at Heineken estimate they have converted 83,210 fifty litre kegs into energy since May 2020.

Utilising the equivalent of almost seven million pints that would have otherwise gone to waste, they have produced enough energy to heat around 28,000 average UK homes for a day,

“After all the care, attention and passion that went into brewing the beer in the first place, it would have been a great shame to pour it down the drain – no brewer wants to see their beer not be enjoyed,” Matt Callan, Brewery and Operations Director at Heineken said.

“Our team of engineers and brewers at Manchester found a solution – using our kegging line to empty beer barrels and turning the beer that would have gone to waste into green energy to power the brewing of fresh beer, all ready for when the pubs re-open.”

In February the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) estimated that up to 87 million pints could have been wasted, at a total cost of £331m.

With an average price per pint of £3.81, pubs have lost millions in revenue on beer that they have been forced to destroy.

The brewing industry has been attempting to become greener: in 2018, AB InBev, the world’s biggest brewer, committed to use renewable power to combat pollution and climate change under the Paris accord.

And Budweiser switched all its US brewing to renewable electricity and is adding a clean energy logo to its labels.

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