Sustainability and having a positive environmental voice as a business is a big deal to us and our core mission. We prefer the word sustainable over environmentally-friendly as it not only encompasses our commitment to the environment, but also our commitment to using local resources and valuing high standards for all the human assets (i.e. employees, vendors, fair trade, etc.) surrounding our business. As a young business we have a lot of growth to do toward being as sustainable as possible, but we think about it daily with every decision we make and to us that is the point – to always be balancing the bottom line with our environmental and socially responsibly ideals to ensure sustainability for our business, our employees, our local community and the greater world around us. Here is a list of all of the current sustainability practices here at the brewery, with many more to come as we learn and grow:
ALUMINUM CANS We selected cans produced at Crown Cork & Seal out of LaCrosse, WI, as our packaging of choice for our off-sale beer. Cans require less packaging and and are easily and infinitely recyclable. Our aluminum cans are made from more than 50% recycled content. Cans are lighter to ship and get about 30% more volume per truckload than glass bottles. The added bonus is that we also feel they a better vehicle for beer stability so a win-win on all fronts.
BREWERY TANKS ARE 100% NORTH AMERICAN MADE We purchase all of our tanks from a North American manufacturer that sources its stainless from the Great Lakes area which means the iron comes from Minnesota and Michigan.
STAINLESS STEEL REUSABLE KEGS (versus one time use plastic kegs available) These kegs are constantly being “recycled” through reuse when they are used by an account then returned to the brewery to be cleaned, sanitized, filled with new beer and then sent back out into the marketplace.
OUR TAPHANDLES ARE 100% MINNESOTA MADE The plastic body is crafted by Duluth based Loll Designs and are made from a material composed from 100% recycled milk jugs and other recycled plastics and the decals are made from Eden Prairie, MN based Douglas Corporation.
PAKTECH CAN HOLDERS We selected PakTech tops for our 6-pack and 4-pack holders as opposed to the classic plastic rings for ecological reasons. They are made from 96% post consumer recycled plastic and they are recyclable at home with any standard plastics recycling program. Many of the PakTech’s we have accepted back at the brewery are broken or bent but we are able to return them to Loll Designs who gets them back to their “plastics” producer for recycling back into the material that makes our taphandles in addition to plastic decking and other uses.
LOCAL WASTE MANAGEMENT Hartel’s Waste Service and WLSSD provide full brewery and taproom wide recycling (plastic bottles/containers, paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum) as well as organics / bio-composting programs. Along with advice and strategies for improvement.
LOCAL SUPPORT FOR THOSE WITH DISABILITIES We hired AirPark Services to pick-up our stretch wrap and other stretchable plastic for recycling. This service organization employs people with disabilities who do the pick-ups. We also hired them to create Bent Paddle branded firestarters as a custom swag item – this 100% recycled product consists of toilet paper rolls, shredded newspaper and wax and is the best camp fire starter you will ever use!
LOCAL MATERIALS IN THE TAPROOM The bar top and 8 tables in our taproom were crafted by Duluth Timber Co. from 3 types of 100% reclaimed wood from 3 different sources: an armory, a winery and a historic brewery!
SUPPORT OF LOCAL FARMERS 100% of our spent brewing grain is donated and picked up by local farmers to be fed to their cattle herds. This translates into over a million pounds of free spent grain that supports our regional cattle farmers every year. A small amount of the spent grain also goes to a local dog biscuit small business - Brewfully Inspired Dog Treats - www.brewfullyinspired.com!
BIO-COMPOSTABLES We require caterers and food trucks at our facility to use only bio-compostable (or reusable rented china / flatware) packaging, plateware, and flatware.
ECO-DELIVERY FLEET We purchased an efficient delivery van capable of fueling on bio-diesel. We also coordinat efficient delivery routes as well to minimize fuel usage.
ENERGY-EFFICIENCY We set-up equipment to reclaim some of our brewing process water for reuse in the brewhouse. We had energy efficient lighting installed in the brewery/warehouse and we installed Variable Frequency Drives on brewery and chiller pumps to reduce our electric load.
ECO-CLEANING We researched and sourced truly ecologically/biodegradable cleaning product line for our taproom and office from local company Twin Ports Paper & Supply (not a “green-washed” product line). In addition to not wanting harsh chemical cleaning products to go down the city drain via our facility it is also important to us that the cleaning products we require our employees come into contact with be less/not toxic.
GREEN SUPPLIES We purchase as close to 100% post-consumer recycled office paper, toilet paper and paper towels as we can find from Duluth based Northern Business Products.
GREEN DISPLAY We researched and sourced our festival display banners, table covers, and now a pop-tent canopy from a Minneapolis based eco-banner company, Banner Creations - www.bannercreations.com, that used their Ecophab™ material made of recycled plastics and water based inks for our printing.
COMMUNITY SUPPORT We have made it a top priority to have a charitable donation program from day one of business operation – we donate beer, taproom venue use, and auction/raffle items to numerous local charities via our Paddle It Forward initiative and have given back over $100,000 in value to these organizations since we opened in 2013.
EMPLOYEE SUPPORT We strive to create a sustainable and safe work environment for our employees and encourage a corporate culture that values a healthy work / life balance.
CLIMATE CHANGE We are a signing member of the Ceres Minnesota Climate Declaration - www.climatedeclaration.us/minnesota.
WATER PROTECTION We vocalize our commitment to maintaining a healthy, clean local ecosystem in order to protect the water of Lake Superior that makes our beer so special. We mention this commitment to the environment and sustainability practices at each public brewery tour (up to 4 a week) to showcase to the public that a successful business can maintain these values.
FUTURE AMBITIONS We have open upper management discussions about our future sustainability plan including installing solar panels, use of environmentally friendly materials in future build-out plans, and striving toward a zero-waste/low-toxic work environment. Every decision that we face is balanced against our core mission statement of sustainability.