How Anheuser-Busch is Championing Sustainability

Anheuser Busch

(Photo courtesy of Anheuser-Busch)

Anheuser-Busch is no stranger to sustainability. Listed at the top of the charts for brewing companies across both the U.S. and the globe, Anheuser-Busch holds a nearly 50% share of U.S. beer sales to retailers. With that title comes a leadership obligation, one that the company has taken seriously when it comes to sustainability efforts in the beverage industry.

According to their website, Anheuser-Busch focuses primarily on water, energy, and recycling as part of their sustainability efforts across their global operations. The brewer has reduced water use by 45% in the past decade and has a 99.6% recycling rate across their twelve U.S. breweries. Anheuser-Busch also committed to reducing carbon emissions in their logistics operations by 15% by the end of 2017, which would be a first for the brewing industry. Claudio Braz Ferro, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Chief Supply Officer, estimates that this effort will reduce 230,000 tons of carbon emissions – enough to power nearly 21,000 homes in the U.S.

We had the opportunity to visit Anheuser-Busch’s Los Angeles brewery recently, thanks to a tour set up through the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council, where we were able to see the company’s sustainable operations first hand.

Here are a few things we learned on our visit to the brewery:

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7 Winemakers On Top of Sustainability Practices

Sustainability in the winemaking business seems to be common practice these days. A number of certifications now exist for vineyards and wineries to highlight their sustainability practices, from energy efficiency to biodiversity, waste management and more. While certifications exist across regions, we took a look at two California-based certification programs to find out what they look for in sustainable vineyards.

The Lodi Rules for Sustainable Winegrowing is California’s first third-party certified sustainable winegrowing program. According to their website, the Lodi Rules “takes a comprehensive approach to farming that goes beyond just pest management to promote practices that enhance biodiversity, water and air quality, soil health, and employee and community well-being.” If a winemaker wants to bear the Lodi Rules seal, their wine must be at least 85% produced using ingredients from certified vineyards, and vineyards need to qualify for certification annually.

Another California-based certification program, Sustainability in Practice (SIP), touts over 32,000 certified acres across California. The program focuses on factors such as: Air and water quality, social responsibility, integrated pest management, and continuing education. They, too, require a minimum of 85% certified fruit in order to bare the SIP seal.

We took a look at Lodi Rules- and SIP-certified winemakers across California, and picked 7 of our favorite sustainable wineries right now:

Baker & Brain

Baker & Brain defines their practice as “wine with a purpose”. Several of their wines are SIP-certified and all of their wine is produced at a winery that recycles 100% of their waste. The facility is also solar-powered.


(Photo courtesy of Macchiatto)

Twisted Roots Vineyard

Twisted Roots Vineyard is Lodi Rules certified and believes in letting the grapes “speak for themselves.”


(Photo courtesy of Twisted Roots Vineyard)

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Sustainable Practices Influence Beer Sales at Stadiums (Infographic)

Last year, Shelton Group released a study that revealed how stadiums’ sustainability efforts impacted attendees’ attitudes toward and buying habits at stadiums. We pulled together some of our favorite statistics into the infographic below:


This is part two of our series this month on sustainability in the beverage industry. Check out our first post on brewers and water quality

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Quality Beer Requires Quality Water

7043274773_6173f0b738_zPhoto courtesy of Fulton Beer


Fulton beer recently hosted a speaking event at their Minneapolis tap room with Friends of the Mississippi, a St. Paul-based organization dedicated to conserving the Mississippi river. The event focused on the State of the River, a report created by Friends of the Mississippi and the National Park Service to highlight the current conditions of the Mississippi river and the initiatives taking place to restore and conserve the river’s water quality.

The end goal? Continue providing clean water for Minnesota residents – and those across the country – who rely on the mighty Mississippi as their primary water source.

And for brewers like Fulton? To continue brewing good beer.

Fulton, alongside their fellow beer brewers, have a vested interest in water quality. Water is a critical ingredient in the brewing process, as beer is roughly 90% water, and quality water is essential to producing quality beer. During an interview with the Growler, Damien McConn, head brewer for Summit Brewing Company in St. Paul, stated:

“Breweries are becoming more and more aggressive about the quality of their water and about sustainability. I think we’ll see more of that. And I think it’s a good thing. You’ve got to have good quality water. And you’ve got to have it for quite some time to come if you’re going to build a business.”

Many brewers across the country have focused efforts on water quality and usage. Some have committed to significantly reducing the amount of water used in the brewing process, while others, like Minnetonka-based Tonka Beer Company, give 100% of their profits to nonprofit organizations focused on water quality and conservation.

In addition, many brewers have taken the Brewers for Clean Water pledge, showing their support for stricter water pollution regulations. During the SXSW Eco meeting last fall, Ian Hughes, assistant brewery manager for Goose Island Co. in Chicago, stated that the Brewers for Clean Water campaign “is a beautiful thing because it allows something so simple as a glass of beer to be a speaking point for the importance of clean water.”

Water quality will continue to spark conversations with brewers across Minnesota, as the state is on track to reach over 110 breweries in 2015.


This is part one of our series this month on sustainability in the beverage industry. 

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10 Easy Ways to Turn Old T-Shirts Into Useful Products

Happy Earth Day!

We recently partnered with Earth Friendly Products to help celebrate the opening of their newest plant in New Jersey. The company was holding on to 300 overprinted t-shirts and decided to upcycle them into 150 giveaway bags for their launch event. We loved this project so much that we also teamed up with a local golf tournament sponsor to make similar bags to hold golf tees for their players.

ECOS T-shirt Bag2

So, in the spirit of Earth Day and our recent projects, we pulled together a list of our favorite ways to repurpose that old stack of t-shirts you have sitting at your home or office:

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A Fresh Start for Foster Kids With Relan & Share Hugs

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Did you know that most foster kids are given a black trash bag upon entering foster care to store all of their belongings?

For Niki McDowell, foster parent and mother of an adopted daughter, this fact really hit home. She decided to take action by creating Share Hugs, a Kansas-based organization dedicated to providing bags and blankets to children entering foster care.  To date, Share Hugs has donated 75 blankets and 145 laundry bags to foster children.

Relan was honored to partner with Share Hugs by creating mesh laundry bags made from banners donated by the Birmingham Museum of Art.

The laundry bags were designed with a flat bottom and a drawstring, so they could double as a storage bag and backpack. Each bag also included a unique design and custom label with space for the kids’ names and emergency contact information.

Perhaps even more rewarding is the fact that Relan’s partner at the Birmingham Museum of Art, also a foster parent, donated the banners before knowing how they would be repurposed.

“I loved working with Kari and Relan. They created mesh laundry bags for me to donate to Foster Care Organizations to use for kiddos going into care. The bags were all one of a kind and so much better than trash bags. They worked on a custom label for the bags with emergency contact information. Now, I am working with Relan on products that I sell to raise more money to purchase more laundry bags. Thank you again for all the help! I can’t strongly endorse you enough.”

-Niki McDowell, Share Hugs

As a result of the generous donation by the Birmingham Museum of Art, Relan and Share Hugs were able to keep nearly 1,000 square feet of material out of landfills and create 130 bags for children in need. And because the bags are made from durable mesh, the children no longer need to rely on a trash bag to store their most treasured belongings.

If you would like to donate to Share Hugs’ mission, visit their website at

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6 Green Giveaways for Your Next Event

Picture this: You just arrived at your first conference of the season. Before the keynote starts, you make your way to the exhibit hall, where you are bombarded with pens, stress balls, and coffee mugs from exhibitors. What do you do with all of those giveaways? Chances are, you have a few sitting at your desk, but the rest were thrown away before you even left the conference.

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