Environmental Excellence Award (Presented to Highland Brewing Company)

02.03.2010 PaleoSun 12 Comments
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Asheville Greenworks presented Highland Brewing Company with the "Environmental Excellence Award" at its 15th Anniversary Party Friday, Jan. 22nd, 2010.  Asheville Greenworks is an organization dedicated to creating a clean and green Buncombe County.

Highland Brewing works very hard to reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as possible.
A few of its efforts include:


  • Give spent grain, spent yeast, used hops and our filter media to a local farmer.
  • Bulk grain, reducing packaging
  • For specialty grains, they come in paper bags which are then recycled.
  • We are creating our own Clean in Place system to recapture water and cleaning chemicals
  • We use a Heat exchanger to reclaim heat from boiled wort and transfer it to hot water for next batch.
  • Organically certified for 2 of our seasonal brands and expanding in future.
  • When we moved to our new location we sold our old tanks, which were retrofitted dairy tanks, to a local biodiesel manufacturing company which used them in their processing.  They take used vegetable oil and turn it into fuel.


  • We reuse as much water as possible in packaging- Rinse water is channeled around to rinse the floor down.
  • Six packs are made of a minimally processed board, unbleached, and more raw
  • Mother cartons are made of mostly post consumer recycled board
  • Moving our 12 pack to a kraft board, 100% recyclable, less processed package
  • Eliminating waste in production
  • New automated keg line saves water over our manual rinsing by reusing wash water.
  • Chosen suppliers as close to the brewery as possible.  Both Mother Cartons and 12 packs manufactured within an hour of the plant to reduce transportation emissions.
  • Label Manufacturer is 10 minutes away and we save all packaging, boxes, roll cores, plastic bags, for reuse on our next run.
  • We purchase most of our equipment used, refurbish it ourselves, and reusing the equipment that would potentially end up in the landfill.


  • Our distribution has spread organically so we are not shipping beer all over the country.
  • 65% of our business is in WNC
  • Keg tracking system to use kegs as much as possible
  • We use one day shipments in order to eliminate the need for refrigerated trucks.


  • US Fish and Wildlife Service, local branch, “mountain top island” awareness linked with Seasonals- Mountain peaks, Cold Mt. Winter ale, we have hiked to the summit each year to gather water from the spring just before the peak
  • River cleanups (2)
  • Sponsoring of organizations (See sheet)
  • Compostable Cups for tours
  • Encourage draft-reducing waste by reusing kegs

General Operations

  • Ethos of reduce, reuse, recycle throughout company.
  • We take advantage of programs from the state and the utility companies to provide energy audits, for natural gas, steam boilers, electricity etc.
  • We have a great respect for the ingredients that go into our product as well, and they all come from having a sustainable, clean, and healthy environment.
  • The main ingredients in beer are Barley/Hops/Water/and Yeast.  All of which are natural ingredients that thrive in a healthy global environment.
  • We have a small facility and maximize every square ft. using what we have to the fullest.
  • We have a fabrication shop and save parts/metal/etc. to reduce waste and consumerism.
  • We are in the process of evaluating our energy inputs, and other inputs, tracking them over time, in order to find new ways of conservation.
  • We have talked with “green” manufacturing consultants for further help.
  • We rehabbed an old warehouse building instead of building a new structure.
  • We have a sewage pretreatment system to help alleviate the pressure put on to our MSD.
  • We have a recycling program company wide, glass, containers, paper and cardboard.
  • We are active in the “Local” movement, which involves us deeply in the community as well as environmental sustainability.
  • We support “Field to table” concepts
  • LEAF
  • Red Cross
  • Drink Local/Buy Local/
  • Dynamite Roasting Co. USDA organic/fair trade certified (We buy coffee from Andy, former brewer)

Future Plans

  • We have talked to BlueRidge Biofuels about using a byproduct of their process to fire our boilers
  • Potentially using bio-diesel in our trucks.
  • CO2 recovery system
  • Changing Lighting, including windows and solar tubes.
  • Stack condenser/heat exchanger
  • Increased reduction in inputs-water-packaging-energy
  • Compost system


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