For those who like to drink beer, the fact that craft breweries are gaining in popularity across Ontario comes as no surprise. What may be a surprise is the challenge faced by these breweries to deal with wastewater once they achieve certain levels of production.
With breweries in more than 110 Ontario communities, the environmental practices of these breweries have an impact. Built on a vision that embraces local production, support for community, and the use of natural ingredients, the Craft Brewing industry has traditionally embraced eco-friendly practices. Practices such as bottle reuse, can recycling, use of recycled content in packaging, box and skid reuse, and sending spent grains and yeast to farmers for reuse are commonplace. Water efficiency also guides all practices.
Since craft brewers use all natural products, the issue of wastewater relates to volume, not contamination. On average, for every 100,000 litres of beer made, a brewery will produce wastewater equivalent to that of 100 residents. Yeast and organic matter released in brewery wastewater have the potential to overwhelm current wastewater treatment systems. Heightened levels of BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) robs the water of oxygen impacting the digestive enzymes in the system and–if released with wastewater effluent–fish and aquatic life. With the popularity of Flying Monkeys’ craft beers and the corresponding increase in production, this brewery is spearheading an initiative to find the best technology to pre-treat brewery wastewater before it hits the municipal treatment plant.
In their search for a solution, the Flying Monkeys have experimented with dehydrators and bioreactors. After a year and a half of lab testing and experimentation, the goal now is to install a centrifuge by the summer of 2017 which will make further lab testing possible and will remove solid material from waste water. Next steps will be to build and house a digester and holding tank for material removed by centrifuging. Moving forward, the Flying Monkeys will strive to reduce their beer to water ration of 5:1 down to 4:1.
Keep your eye out for more updates on progress this summer!