BY CHRIS BRAUER
June 5 was World Environment Day, and Labatt Breweries of Canada took the opportunity to recognize the award-winning environmental efforts made by their employees. The company has made significant achievements in environmental performance that have resulted in being named one of Canada’s Greenest Employers three years running. To date, 55,000 employee ideas across the country have been put forward, with 45,000 ideas implemented since 2001. Labatt has reduced water consumption by 46% since 2006; reduced total energy by 14% between 2011 and 2016; and diverted 99% of waste from landfills.
Columbia Brewery manager Scott Stokes and Brewing Specialist Andrew Morris spoke of recent changes made in Creston, and how these changes will help decrease water and energy consumption. “While there was obviously a focus on World Environment Day, we really encourage suggestions throughout the year. We’re constantly focusing on how to decrease our environmental impact, and we try to motivate our staff to come forward with any ideas they may have,” said Stokes. “We receive a huge number of suggestions and those that are implemented go into a quarterly draw. Prizes have included tickets to the Gorge Amphitheatre in Washington, and BBQ packs featuring selections from Famous Fritz Meats & Deli.”
“I think many of us here at the brewery are really motivated to preserve the natural beauty of the environment,” added Morris. “Many of us spend evenings and weekends on Kootenay Lake or in the woods or up in the mountains, and we really want to share those experiences with our children and grandchildren. We live in such a beautiful place and I think that motivates us to keep looking for ways we can be more efficient.”
Stokes and Morris believe communication is the key element in making sure the brewery runs the best way possible. Not only is communication between staff important, but so is the reinterpretation of data from increasingly better technology. “Most of the changes we have made are small or technical in some way, but together these changes make a big difference,” said Morris. “We recently implemented 30 ideas that didn’t require a considerable amount of time or investment. These changes will cut down a further 10% of our water usage. This translates to 25 million liters less water per year. That’s significant.”
Some of the changes include using outside temperatures in the winter to aid cooling units and installing fans to circulate the cold air and water. The brewery can now detect and fix leaks faster as better technology is installed. “Just by adjusting set points to compensate for the seasons, we are able to dramatically decrease power and water usage,” said Stokes. “It’s often a matter of programming changes and optimizing the process with timers.”
“We have more effective routines than ever before,” said Morris. “Many of the changes may seem obvious, but it takes operators to notice something amiss or have an idea, and then we can implement changes and monitor the results.”
Lowering the brewery’s environmental impact and helping preserve the environment goes beyond efforts made within the walls of the brewery. “We have a great relationship with the town,” said Stokes. “We constantly work on waste water quality so we’re not damaging local water systems, and our Dash for Trash event on the first weekend in May has been a big part of the community for seven years. This year there were 300 people that participated, and I have to say that our town is actually really clean. Seven years ago we filled a big bin with garbage and it was overflowing by the end of the event. Now we’ve had to expand the area and we only fill a smaller container. That’s great to see.”