Waste Not Want Not: Tips to Prevent Pollution for Breweries

When you take the last sip from your stein of beer you know it’s frowned upon to leave any waste behind. The same goes for the breweries who produce this tasty beverage.

In 2016, American breweries produced more than 189 million barrels of beer according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. As expansive and complex as the alcoholic beverage industry is, accidents that lead to waste and pollution are inevitable and could have a devastating effect on the environment. These sudden instances can result in costly pollution claims against a brewery and negative publicity that could potentially shut down a business for good. However, these claims aren’t always the result of bad timing or misfortune, and many cases can be avoided.

Some of the most common pollution claims are due to a passive approach to management instead of a proactive one. This means that managing the environmental impact of a brewery requires more than just a yearly review. Instead of waiting for an accident to happen and relying solely on insurance to cover the costs, breweries can take steps to ensure their businesses are operating in a way that creates as little risk for pollution as possible.

Here are five processes to consider to keep a brewery running smoothly and (hopefully) without an environmental incident that could lead to serious consequences:

Proper Wastewater Disposal

Brewing beer requires a substantial amount of water—and not all of that water makes it into the finished product. The remaining liquid must be treated and then disposed of in the form of wastewater, usually to a wastewater pond. If it accidentally spills or leaks out into waterways, wastewater can disrupt an ecosystem, changing the chemical balance of the water and harming the wildlife which depends on it.

One of the biggest problems with this scenario is that contaminated water can travel miles away before the business owner knows a leak or spill has happened. This can occur as one contaminated body of water, such as a stream, flows into a river, affecting each area it passes through.

Prevent accidents during wastewater disposal by ensuring that the wastewater treatment plant undergoes regular maintenance checks that guarantee it will function properly. Test the pH of wastewater after processing to confirm that it meets standards and regulations before disposal.

Careful Equipment
Installation & Removal

Equipment installation and removal must be undertaken with great attention to detail. For breweries, equipment includes containment systems and storage tanks that are both above and below ground. If these containment systems were to leak, the effects could be disastrous.

The slightest fault during installation or removal could lead to equipment malfunctions that pollute surrounding groundwater and aquifers. Contaminated aquifers have the potential to shut down an area’s access to potable water. Along with paying for the cost of cleanup, a business could be responsible for covering expenses to supply locals with drinkable/usable emergency water supplies.

Hiring experienced workers helps ensure proper installation and removal of equipment. The extra money a business owner may spend to do the job right and on the first try will save a tremendous amount of money in the long run, as well as a potential headache if catastrophe strikes. Check that equipment is secured properly and take the time to double-check the work done during the process. Skipping any steps or failing to comply with the proper standards for installation/removal could result in steep fines and an environmental disaster that damages the company’s reputation.

Regular Equipment Maintenance

Maintaining the equipment in a facility is arguably the most important aspect of preventing pollution. This goes far beyond the basics of installation, considering the wear and tear the machinery goes through on a daily basis. When one piece of equipment fails, it has the potential to taint the entire system and cause a malfunction that could leave the business susceptible to an environmental accident.

A malfunction could be the result of something as simple as a loose valve or as serious as a storage tank breakdown. Either way, the stability of the business’s equipment determines whether waste is disposed of and stored properly.

Routinely order maintenance checks on equipment and run tests to look for any flaws in the system, and replace equipment that is worn, overworked or out of date. Stay ahead of potential issues and immediately repair something that could lead to a future problem. Putting off repairs, even for a day, could be the difference between a system that runs smoothly and one that ruins a business.

Effective Employee Training

A conscientious, well-trained employee is the greatest defense against brewery pollution. This employee can spot an issue with equipment, follow guidelines and regulations and avoid taking shortcuts that could lead to an environmental disaster.

Human error is inevitable, but the chances of an accident are much lower if business owners take the time to properly train their workers. Have regular training sessions to keep employees sharp and use security systems to monitor employees and guarantee they’re following guidelines.

Drivers that transport waste should have all the proper certifications for operating the vehicle, as well as a response plan should an accident that leads to wastewater dispersal occur. During the hiring process, assure candidates are properly screened.

Prevention is the first step to keeping a company safe from expensive pollution claims. Understand the risks and use these tips to stay ahead of prospective problems.

Unfortunately, a business owner could take all the necessary steps possible to prevent an accident and still end up with one. Without proper insurance coverage, these environmental incidents could put a business out of commission for weeks. In most cases, until the damage the company has caused is fixed, operations will be shut down, costing millions.

Take the time to vet specialized insurers and find the coverage that fits the company’s needs. Partnering with the right insurer is crucial to protecting a brewery. A good insurer will help cover the cost of pollution claims and get your business back up and running.