From the moment we opened the doors at Brightside, sustainability was and still is at the forefront of how we work. We want to brew beer in the most environmentally friendly manner, taking into account different aspects of our process, from waste management to energy usage.
Reducing General Waste
Although waste is inevitable, we try to keep it to a minimum. Our approach involves making every effort to only buy what we need in respect of consumables like labels & pump clips, and then recycling or reusing materials such as cardboard and plastics which are inevitable waste products of the brewing process. Our brewery waste disposal consists of a single domestic-sized black bin, which is only emptied every few weeks. The rest of our waste is either reused (grain, hops & yeast is used as cattle feed & compost for example) or recycled industrially.
Cardboard and Packaging
When it comes to cardboard, there’s quite a lot of it in the brewery: Our hops & pellets are delivered in boxes; it protects our bottles and cans during pallet transit; our 12-bottle packs have cardboard trays and we use brand new cardboard to transport our retail orders. That’s before all the miscellaneous goods that come into the brewery in boxes large and small…Whilst we can’t always control what arrives, we can decide what happens to it after it arrives here.
Some of this cardboard is re-purposed locally by an engineering company that uses hop boxes to transport work to customers, meaning the boxes are used twice before (hopefully) being re-cycled. We also use waste cardboard on our delivery vans to separate & protect our casks & glass bottles, or in the shop to keep beer off the ground.
If you place a retail beer order, you may find one of the trays from our 12-bottle packs inside your box. This is to provide a little extra padding when the bottles are in transit. Not only does it mean our waste is being repurposed, but it also protects our customers’ orders and makes sure they get there in one piece.
Whatever isn’t re-used, is re-cycled.
In 2021 we worked with the Manchester Sustainable Materials Innovation Hub on their project Beyond Planting Trees: More Sustainable Beer Packaging. During this process, researchers visited the brewery to record the volume and types of plastics we used; weighing, measuring and taking samples, in order to get an accurate picture of which plastics we consumed from our suppliers, and which plastics we used in our own product packaging. This information was then added to that gathered from 8 other Manchester brewers to generate an overview of plastic use in the local brewing industry. The findings of this research could then be used to inform suppliers to our trade, other brewers and interested parties. Each brewer taking part then received information on how they could further reduce their plastic consumption, and how to better deal with the plastic generated, which continues to help us in our efforts to reduce our waste. The study concluded that we had one of the lowest outputs of plastic per hectolitre of beer produced (behind only those brewers who do not produce cans or bottles) at 442g/ HL – the highest in the study, for comparison, was over 3500g/ HL. Whilst we were happy to hear this, we know there’s always room for improvement!
Our Casks and Kegs
At Brightside, we maintain a steady supply of casks and kegs for distributing our beer to pubs. We only ever use re-usable stainless steel casks & kegs to supply to trade. Once a container is empty, we collect it, clean it, refill it, and send it back to another pub. This not only reduces waste but also helps us control costs by removing the need for constant purchases of single-use containers for beer deliveries to trade (which are also very difficult to properly re-cycle).
Energy Usage at Brightside
Keeping an eye on our energy consumption is important to us and has led us to actively work on reducing it. In recent years, we have replaced traditional lighting fixtures with energy-efficient LED lights throughout the brewery. Motion sensors are installed in our chiller rooms, making sure that lights are only on when someone is around. Furthermore, we also source our energy from a clean energy supplier. This means our electricity is sourced from renewable sources, helping our sustainability efforts. Each day, we turn off lights and equipment that are not in use, to help reduce our energy consumption. Finally, we plan our delivery routes in advance, to reduce the mileage we travel when delivering our beer.