Friday, May 17, 2019

So You Pollute How Much…?

Fermentation is an amazing natural process, whereby microscopic single-cell organisms consume carbohydrates, and in the process the filth they emit as waste products is ethanol. Humans consume this filth - at least as far as we are looking at it - in beer.

Now breweries may not realize this, but they are actually chemical production plants, with ethanol emissions as a pollutant. Ethanol is an organic compound, in the category of VOC (volatile organic compounds). VOCs are regulated as pollutants because they contribute to the formation of ozone at ground level.

There’s not a lot of VOCs emitted from brewing, measured in pounds per gallon, and of course many nano- or micro-breweries will hardly have any emissions. If we look at AB-INBEV, their global (2017) production was reportedly 357 million barrels of beer! If we assume (which is not correct, but just for the sake of argument) they can and bottle 50%, with average ABV of 4.5%, they emit 2,766 tons of ethanol per year!

We set up a spreadsheet that calculates your emissions based on gallons of beers canned or bottled. A future version will have kegging as well.

So anyway, keep a copy of the spreadsheet, fill in your numbers if you want (“wow, we released 0.016 tons!”). It’s a good bit of data to have handy for an audit by a government agency (EPA or state), or in case there’s a complaint of potential “air pollution” from your business. If you need help, just contact us.

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