Zero Waste Month: Anderson Distilleries

Anderson distilleries sort of fell backwards into zero waste. It’s just the cheapest way to do what we do.

(Courtesy of Anderson Distilleries)

We continue our Zero Waste Month with Anderson Distilleries! Wanting a more fiscal way of disposing spent grain and yeast hulls, Ian Anderson says partnering with local gardeners also allows their solid waste to be taken care of in a more environmentally friendly manner while also providing a free fertilizer alternative for gardeners.

All the community gardens we contacted jumped at the offer of free compost. We no longer need to deliver the compost to the gardens. Individual gardeners now come by the distillery with buckets and pick it up directly. In fact, it doesn’t always have a chance to finish composting before they pick it up. Gardeners will add it to their home composter’s to accelerate decomposition of things like paper and wood.

In addition to this, Anderson Distilleries does not use chemical additives in their brewing process. Although doing so would improve production output, Ian says the cost of such chemicals is greater than the potential value of additional product.

The fact that our products end up being 100% vegan, organic, and kosher is purely aside the point for us. We dont bother with certifications because they add too much of an expense for our current production volume. Our waste stream contains less alcohol per unit volume than a typical household compost pile so there is a strong argument to be made that our spent grain is also halal.

Ian says, ultimately there is no preservatives in their waste stream, which is further separated into liquid and solid.

You could use our liquid waste to water your lawn all summer. The only thing you would notice is that it smelled a little like stale beer for a day or two afterwards. Our liquid waste is disposed of by the GVRD for a small annual fee. We put our solid waste into a composter where it rapidly begins to decompose.

Due to the properties of their waste, Anderson Distilleries’ compost can be roughly compared to horse manure. Ian says their disposal method is purely academic from a business perspective and the fertilizer product is a great addition to this.

Our solid waste is mostly yeast hulls, barley gluten, and grain husks. Yeast hulls and gluten are almost pure protein. The decomposition products of this are extremely high in nitrogen. The husks from the grain add porosity and allow airflow through the composting mass. Commercial waste disposal companies charge extra to dispose of compostable material. Per kilogram, it costs roughly twice as much money to dispose of spent grain when compared to construction waste.

While saving money, Anderson Distilleries is reducing the amount of solid waste that goes into the landfill and is also helping local gardeners receive a free and valuable resource. Ian says they are currently focused on reducing the volume of liquid waste produced so stayed tuned for that!