Brewing for a better tomorrow

Brewing for a better tomorrow

Green Brewery Certification LogoThe Iowa Waste Reduction Center (IWRC) is dedicated to enhancing the environmental sustainability of Iowa’s brewing industry through its Iowa Green Brewery Certification program. Participating breweries voluntarily undergo assessments to help them adopt sustainable practices. What makes this program unique is that it’s a free service supporting small businesses in Iowa.

“The primary goal of the Iowa Green Brewery Certification is simple – to make Iowa’s brewing industry more environmentally friendly and reduce its impact on the planet,” said Joe Bolick, IWRC director. “The certification program focuses on four overarching areas: environmental management and record-keeping, water quality and conservation, overall waste reduction and energy efficiency.”

Breweries voluntarily undergo audits and checklist assessments, examining everything from documentation and standardized operating procedures to HVAC maintenance and waste management. The meticulous process helps breweries adopt sustainable practices, such as capturing heat for reuse, recycling wastewater, and minimizing their overall resource footprint. The comprehensive approach is particularly vital given the resource-intensive nature of brewing and associated costs.

Upon completion of the assessments, breweries receive a score out of 100, with designations ranging from Bronze to Platinum. The recommendations report provided by IWRC encourages continuous improvement, where breweries are supported in implementing changes to enhance their financial and environmental sustainability efforts.

The impact is tangible. Big Grove Brewery proudly became the first to display the Iowa Green Brewery Certification logo on its cans, signaling a commitment to sustainability. Similarly, SingleSpeed Brewing demonstrated its commitment when establishing its Waterloo location, aiming for Platinum status in its pursuit of environmentally responsible practices.

Since its inception seven years ago, the program has grown exponentially. Four breweries have achieved the coveted Platinum status, with a total of 34 breweries earning certification. Currently, the IWRC is working on certifying another half-dozen breweries and even extending its reach to its first cidery. The program is a testament to the industry’s collective commitment to sustainable practices.

"[IWRC] had some great insights and very practical and easily implemented ideas of things we could do to reduce our environmental impact." 

– Nick Newgard

"The Iowa Waste Reduction Center was great to work with for the Iowa Green Brewery Certification," said Nick Newgard, owner and brewer at Second State Brewing. "They had some great insights and very practical and easily implemented ideas of things we could do to reduce our environmental impact. They have been a great partner for the Iowa brewing industry to keep environmental issues in mind while growing a business that relies on the quality of natural resources like water."

What sets the Iowa Green Brewery Certification apart is its commitment to being a free service. The IWRC has witnessed the industry boom from 40 breweries at the program’s inception to a staggering 120 breweries in Iowa today. The program has become an integral part of the industry’s growth, offering assistance and guidance at a time when environmental impact is increasingly crucial.

The IWRC is a pioneer in conducting in-person, third-party audits rather than relying on regulatory bodies. Beyond Iowa’s borders, other states, including Massachusetts and Tennessee, are taking notice and are working on adopting a similar program. Many businesses shy away from reaching out to regulators, making the IWRC’s approach both unique and effective, indicated Bolick.

The success of Iowa Green Brewery Certification is a symbol of commitment to a greener future by the entire industry across the state. It’s a testament to what can be achieved when industry players and environmental stewards join forces to make a positive impact.