B Corp at Stone & Wood

As the only B Corp certified brewery in Australia, and one of the most popular and highly acclaimed beer brands in the country, I was very excited to speak with James Perrin of Stone & Wood and include them in the #SustySuds series.

First of all, congrats on being voted the 3rd spot in Australia's Best Craft Brewery in 2016!(http://www.beercartel.com.au/blog/2016-australian-craft-beer-survey-results/),

Thanks! I actually wasn’t aware of that one! We are really excited about all awards, including the recent ‘Hottest 100 Aussie craft beers’ poll, where our Pacific Ale placed number 1!

As the B Corp Certification is broad in terms of how you achieve its criteria, what industry specific programs or resources have you used to guide the specific methods you use in your operations? (ie, industry associations, industry leaders, other industries, consultants, etc)

A key part of our B-Corp certification process was around environmental sustainability, particularly around water and energy reduction. We referenced the Brewer’s Association’s ‘Best Practice’ guides in our B-Corp application, and we are always keeping up to date on what practices a lot of the leading brewers are up to in the US.

Water is scarce, especially in Australia, tell me how your new UFRO helps in overall water conservation? Any idea how much water/money is being saved? Was there an ROI goal on your unit? 

Our new UFRO unit is designed to treat our wastewater on-site for re-use for cleaning and utilities purposes. This actually serves two goals… one is that it reduces overall water usage, but the other is that it will also help reduce our wastewater discharge to sewer. Being in a regional location, wastewater load can be a big problem on the local municipal WWTP, so anything we can do to mitigate that load will help to relieve the stress on local infrastructure, as well as keeping our compliance costs down.

Whilst it is now installed, we have had a couple of setbacks to get it fully operational, and it will now be fully up and running in the middle of the year. It has been sized for us to grow into, however at full capacity it could reduce our water usage by up to 50kL per day, which will probably be about a quarter of our overall water consumption at that time. In terms of ROI, it was a mixture of water consumption savings as well as sewer discharge savings, which made the investment much more attractive.

According to the Brewers Association (America), many craft brewers are around 7 barrels of water for one barrel of beer, do you measure this ratio at your brewery and if so what is your current performance at? Do you consider this an important performance indicator? How does this guide your investments into future equipment/infrastructure? 

We do measure this metric and I hope that all other brewers do as well! It’s quite a common and important sustainability metric amongst brewers. We currently sit at about 3.5 L water / L beer (or barrels/barrels depending where you come from). This is before we are using our UF-RO… There are a few reasons we think we sit quite low on the spectrum of usage which is mainly due to less processing and water re-use… for example, we utilize ‘unitank’ fermenters, which means that we ferment our beer in a tank, and we cold condition the beer in the same tank.

Many breweries will transfer their beer from fermenting vessel to another vessel which means more water required for cleaning double the amount of tanks. We run a dry packaging line without lubrication, and we do not tunnel pasteurize our beer; both are processes which can use significant amounts of water. 

Stone & Wood's Murwillumbah brewery. image courtesy of TheShout.com.au
In terms of re-use, we capture all of the water from our bottle rinser and re-use it in our cooling tower and we use treated wastewater for on-site irrigation of our gardens. Once we get the UF-RO fully up and running, we expect water efficiency to get better again. This metric certainly helped to guide the investment of the UF-RO system, and any other potential water-related investments going forward.

Big ideas for next 5-10 years?

We are still going through a period of substantial growth, so our big plans revolve around building a new brewery in Byron Bay, as well as expanding our main production facility in Murwillumbah. In all of our designs we do our best to incorporate sustainability and community, and we are pretty excited about the opportunities going forward… Certainly we want to expand our solar production at both sites. We will be expanding our waste and wastewater treatment programs whereby most of our organic waste is composted and re-used by local farmers… And we also getting more involved in industry and government programs and bodies to help drive and influence action for other businesses going forward as well. Watch this space!

Learn more about Stone & Wood's efforts:
B Corp Profile
B Corp 2016 Report

Some interesting repurposing going on here.

This photo of Stone and Wood Brewery is courtesy of TripAdvisor

A little more about Stone & Wood