A beer tank at Darling Brew (Photo: Gabi Zietsman)
Cape Town - Darling Brew was on the road to a greener life before the brewery even opened its doors. Before getting into the craft beer business, co-founders Philippa and Kevin Wood were on a 9-month trip travelling the continent, living out of their car with minimal impact on the environment.
They wished to maintain this philosophy when they started their business, and on Thursday they announced that Darling Brew has become Africa's first carbon neutral brewery, aiming to offset a total of 687.96 tonnes of CO2 in the next year.
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Darling Brew conducted a greenhouse audit to determine their emission output and through that process started implementing more carbon reduction plans and investing in programmes that benefit communities through sustainable and environmentally friendly practices. Their first carbon-neutral beer was the Blood Serpent, launched in 2016, but now the sustainability practices have been extended to the whole production line.
Although they are also buying Carbon Credits, which benefits The Kariba REDD+ project in Zimbabwe that focuses on forest conservation, Philippa notes that more needs to be done than just buying your carbon neutral status.
"We need to manage our usage to bring [our emissions] down and not just focus on buying credits."
"This also includes acknowledging our weaknesses."
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“It’s about our commitment to continuously reducing our carbon footprint as much as possible whilst using the offsetting process as a way of further redressing our impact,” adds Kevin.
Some on these processes were unknowingly implemented before they conducted their audit, like no windows were built in the main brewery which naturally controls the temperature and the bottling line doesn't run every day - instead they do one long run which saves electricity in the long run.
Other measures include water efficient fittings, waterless urinals, ongoing recycling and food waste management and the use of upcycled furniture and recycled wood in the brewery and tasteroom area. They are also making chips made from 40% spent grain that's leftover from the brewing process.
Water is recycled in the rinse process, and cleaning solutions to clean the tanks are also recycled until they can no longer clean. Hygiene is very important to produce good beer and brewmaster Rene du Toit adds that by using high-quality grain to produce the beer, you end up using less water and energy.
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In the last three months they have also managed to bring down the amount of water used, reducing it from 12 to 10.7 litres of water for every litre of beer - and they aim to reduce it even more. They also want to make a plan to cut down on the shrink-wrap used to package their bottles, but want to consumers to know that they are recyclable.
Darling Brew also commemorated their first carbon neutral year with the planting of a water pear tree, and will be planting a new tree for each year afterwards until "we're surrounded by a forest".
“We are excited to progress on this journey. Going carbon neutral is a massive step for us, but certainly not the last,” says Kevin.
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