Waste Management in the Brewing Industry

Although waste management affects all segments of the fermented foods industry, the issue is particularly important in the brewing in-dustry.This is because beer manufacturing uses nearly a half-billion tons of grains each year and, although some components of that grain are fermented, much of the grain is left behind. These spent grains represent a considerable disposal problem. Currently, this material is used in one of several ways. It can be further processed and used as a specialty food ingredient (e.g., as a fiber supplement), however this market is way too small to make much of a dent in the supply of spent grains. It is more common for breweries (small and large) to contract with local farmers, who use the spent grains as livestock feed. Spent grains can also be used as fertilizer.The grains can be dried to extend shelf-life and reduce shipping cost, but drying requires energy and is expensive. Still, both wet and dry grains are used. Another waste product that poses problems for the industry is the spent filter material used as filter aids. Alternative filtration systems that do not require filter aids or that use materials that can be recycled are now available.

Finally, brewing uses large volumes of wa-ter.As much as 5 L to 10 L of water are used for every liter of beer. Much of this water contains biological material, and its disposal into municipal water supplies may be restricted and expensive.Therefore, water handling sys tems, such as anaerobic digesters that treating and/or recycle this water are critical.

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