By Rachel Major and Jimi T Hardee
TL;DR Jaw Brew is a microbrewery that specializes in turning the circular economy into new pockets of wealth. Now they’re tackling the brewing industry’s next untapped opportunity - water.
Jaw Brew is a microbrewery in Glasgow (Scotland) that uses the circular economy to increase their bottom line. They are also a member of our pilot program. Recently, we had the opportunity to speak with Mark Hazell, their founder and head-brewer.
Mark’s “stated ambition is to be a world-leading circular microbrewery.” And they aren’t just blowing smoke.
It started with their award-winning beer made from bread rolls from bakeries that would otherwise have been discarded at the end of the day. This is just the tip of the iceberg, though.
Other circular initiatives Jaw Brew has in the pipeline include reusable bottles, a heat recovery system that will use the excess heat generated by the beer cooling systems to heat water for the next brew, and snack bars made from the spent grains rich in fiber and protein.
One of the coolest of projects that Jaw Brew is working is a partnership with a company that creates bio-plastics out of shrimp shells. This is used to create packaging that is not only biodegradable but actually compostable! Not to mention safe - and edible- for ocean life.
This commitment does stem from a the belief in doing good, but Mark also leverages this as a way to significantly improve Jaw Brew’s profits. Hazel brings up the example of their snack bars.
“Rather than selling our spent grain to farmers for cattle feed, where a large brewery might be able to sell it for 25 pounds/tonne, if we can make 10,000 snack bars with that same tonne of grain, you can imagine if they sell four a pound each, that's a lot of money.”
“When you are actively looking for ways of reusing what would normally be a wasted product you actually get a lot of mileage out of that… it has the potential to increase the profitability of the business as well as just being the right thing to do.”
Now, Jaw Brew has set their sights on one of the largest sources of waste in the brewing industry, and one of the resources most affected by scarcity: water.
One way that Jaw Brew is planning on addressing this is by is through the NuTree and aquaponics systems that will clean and recycle their wastewater.
“You have a really good example of the circular economy that would also have the effect of being a visitor attraction… [This is] a complimentary business to the brewery.”
When we think about water scarcity, we often conjure images of the developing world. Brewing is a prime example of an industry that feels water pain hard, even in the US and Europe.
“Brewing is a high water use industry… circularity will become essential in brewing… within a decade most brewers will be looking to reuse the water by cleaning it rather than just using it once.”
This work helps illustrate that we must find sustainable solutions everywhere, and by doing so we actually have a chance to turn scarcity into abundance.