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Heineken turns wasted beer into biogas

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The Heineken Brewery in Manchester, UK is turning wasted beer into biogas.

The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) predicts around 87 million pints will have been thrown away as a result of pub closures during the pandemic, equivalent to almost £331 million (€384 million) worth of beer.

As part of its ‘Brewing A Better World’ sustainability strategy, Heineken looked to alleviate the situation by producing biogas. The waste beer is being used to power the brewing kettles and canning pasteurisers instead.

Since May 2020, the brewery has processed 83,210 50-litre kegs, equivalent to 6,989,640 pints. According to the company, this is enough power to heat nearly 28,000 average UK homes for a day.

The thousands of full kegs, which couldn’t be sent to pubs during the lockdown, are emptied and the beer is stored in empty brewing vessels before being drip-fed into the site’s wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). It is then put into the anaerobic digester at the WWTP which converts it into biogas.

The WWTP has been operating at full capacity, processing the equivalent of 70,000 litres of beer per day.

“After all the care, attention, and passion that went into brewing the beer in the first place, it would have been a great shame to pour it down the drain – no brewer wants to see their beer not be enjoyed,” said Matt Callan, brewery and operations director at Heineken.

“Our team of engineers and brewers at Manchester found a solution – using our kegging line to empty beer barrels and turning the beer that would have gone to waste into green energy to power the brewing of fresh beer, all ready for when the pubs reopen.”