The Sawmill approach to Sustainability.
At Sawmill our sustainability efforts are focused on a collaboration with B Lab. Through B Lab we measure all our initiatives because external certification gives confidence to consumers and to us that what we are doing is measurably making a difference. Greenwashing is a real risk to everyones sustainability efforts and we believe verification and measuring change is critical for the confidence of consumers. Through B Corp certification we are able to have verified demonstrable outcomes which are publicly available.
We operate right at the reality end of sustainability. We make a difference and we do it in a way we hope is most easily replicable by other companies especially manufacturers and those in the beer industry. We operate this way not as a strategic marketing advantage but in order to have a positive impact on our community and
environment and to demonstrate what can practically be done. There is a saying “We don't need a handful of people doing sustainability perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
Real sustainability -
building a business that makes the future look brighter - covers more than environmental factors and B Corp certification required us to look at our business as a whole in assessments across Governance, Workforce, Community, Customers and Environment. In order to earn B Corp certification you must meet criteria in each of these areas.
Our team is a critical part of our sustainability because we
cannot do this without protecting the safety, health, and welfare of our most vital resource. A strong team builds wealth in our community and protects the longevity of a business. It creates a better work culture and enables us to be bolder with our sustainability goals.
Environmental Action. Our environmental efforts have
been independently verified because we want Sawmill consumers to know where they stand and other breweries to hopefully be inspired to pick up sometimes small practical changes that collectively would make a massive difference to our impact as an industry. There is no competitive advantage in holding information to ourselves. We have a huge goal as a society to have a positive environmental impact and we want to be part of that.
The biggest natural resources a brewery uses are water and
power. This is how we handle these.
- We catch all the water available off our roof – currently around 1M litres annually and use this in the brewery (including for brewing). This year this accounted for 16% of the water we use. This remaining water comes from an onsite spring but catching rainwater reduces our reliance on this aquifer.
- Standard practice is for brewery waste water to go into the stormwater system. At Sawmill all our stormwater and waste water is treated on site and goes back on to the surrounding land as irrigation. The quality of the water is
monitored and returned in the purest form available with the treatment facilities we currently have. This affects what chemicals we use and in what quantity (this is measured and reported) and is an incentive to keep this to
the minimum. We are currently planning a significant expansion to this system, not only to cope with increased loading from brewery expansion, but also to bring our applied wastewater to as close to source water purity as is possible.
- The hop residue is separated out of the waste water and we work with Mahurangi Wastebusters, a local charity, to use this residue for making compost which is then sold to
fund waste reducing initiatives.
- We measure our total water use as well as the ratio of beer produced to wastewater and we have set goals around this which are reported to our whole team monthly. We are currently (Aug-September 2021 numbers) running at 6.04 litres water in per litre beer out, Which is quite firmly in the 4-8 L in/L beer out range which is recognised as ‘best practice’. Overall water efficiency tends to go up in peak periods, so we find our usage is typically ~4.5 L/L in Spring and Summer.
- We do not use a pasteuriser at Sawmill – Viniquip have advised this saves us 4,500 litres per hour our filling line is operating.
- We have installed a heat recovery system in our brewery which recycles water. When using the plate heat exchanger to chill our wort from boiling to ~20 degrees C, we utilise chilled water as the process water. This chilled
water is heated to ~80 degrees C through this process and is 100% recovered into our hot water tank. This process saves 1.5 million litres of water annually. This system also saves 287,091Mj of energy annually - nearly 6000 kgs of LPG per year.
- We have been utilising solar energy in our brewery since 2006. In Feb 2019 we installed a new system in our Matakana brewery with 54 panels which generates
up to 97% of our power use in summer and around 78% in winter. (These are currently out of order due to the brewery fire of 2019, but are due to be re-installed soon.) The remainder of our power is delivered by Meridian who under normal circumstances use 100% renewable energy. We regularly speak with other businesses to share data around this system.
- LED lighting and motion sensors throughout the brewery and Smoko Room and smart lighting to read natural light levels and adjust accordingly.
- All the soft plastics that come into the brewery (pallet wrap / grain sacks etc) are recycled in New Zealand with Plasback. This has reduced our waste to landfill by 85%.
- We have installed grain silos in partnership with Gladfield Malt which has meant 12,000 less grain sacks used by Sawmill over the last 12 months.
- The backing of our bottle labels is collected and recycled through a program with our label provider- when deciding on a new provider for our bottle label contract, the ability to recycle the label backing was one of our key criteria in finding a new supplier.
- Annual Waste Audits to see if anything is going into landfill that shouldn’t be and also to help us reduce what is going to landfill – for example if a high proportion of our waste is latex gloves we will look for an alternative product that can be recycled or reused. This is pretty straightforward. You tip all the landfill destined waste for a defined period onto a tarpaulin and work out if it could
go somewhere other than the landfill or if we can prevent it coming into the brewery in the first place. Its dirty and practical and any business can do it.
- Our waste to landfill from the Brewery has been reduced to an average of 24kgs a week.
- All compostable waste from the brewery + Smoko Room is diverted either to local farms (grain) or composted on site for use in our garden. We currently have 11 compost bins onsite.
- We promote (and incentivise through price) the refilling of glass flagons at the brewery to reduce waste and don’t offer plastic flagons.
- All polyboxes are recycled and reused by local oyster farmers.
- Two large onsite garden beds serve the Smoko Room + staff.
- We focus on using NZ ingredients and source 99%
of our grain from New Zealand owned Gladfield Malt and 70% of our hops from NZ Hops and other New Zealand owned hop farms.
- Hybrid EV’s account for 50% of our sales vehicles which will increase to 80% in November 2021 as leases expires.
- Many breweries use a finings agent PolyVinylPolyPyrilidone (PVPP) which is a plastic polymer used to remove certain polyphenols naturally present in beer. This compound is not biodegradable and is essentially a form of “microplastic”. We do not use this product.
- We have a relationship with CITIZEN Brewery to produce beer made using bread that would otherwise have gone to waste and to turn to spent grain from these brews into flour for re use.
- Clean-in-Place (CIP) chemical reuse:
Cleaning and sanitation of our production vessels requires the use of Caustic Soda solution and Peracetic Acid solution. Standard industry practice for a brewery our size is to single-use these solutions. However, we have employed a skid-mounted CIP unit that has reservoirs to receive the used solutions, keep them at temperature, then deploy them into another tank for CIP. This unit saves us hot rinsewater, cold rinsewater, and chemical per reuse.
- Using untreated / chemical free New Zealand timber in the brewery + Smoko Room.
- Smoko Room furniture, ceramics, art and lighting fixtures were designed and made locally.
Our Social responsibility. At Sawmill this goes beyond giving away beer.
Every year we work with Everybody Eats, an Auckland based charity that takes food that would otherwise be wasted and turns it into hundreds of meals offered on a pay-what-you-want basis, meeting a huge need in Aucklands homeless community. Our team work in the kitchen to prepare around 300 meals.
- We have worked with BLAKE (formerly known as the
Sir Peter Blake Trust) for the last 18 months in various ways to support their work to foster environmental leadership in New Zealand. Alongside fundraising
(through BLAKE beer released Sept 2021) we host groups of teachers and students at the Smoko Room regularly and speak about B Corp and how small businesses can change the way business contributes to positive change.
- We support our local schools, fire brigades and regularly run fundraising events in the Smoko Room. We also offer the Smoko Room at no cost for local charities to use, for workshops, speakers and fundraising.