Beer Industry: Environmental Concerns and Regulations

Time to Add Pigging to the Mix?

Beer is one of the oldest, and most widely consumed alcoholic beverages in the world. It’s also the third most consumed beverage overall (after water and tea of course!). So, it’s not surprising that the global beer market is expected to generate approximately $750 billion in sales by 2022, growing at a CAGR of around 6% between 2017 and 2022.

The growth of the beer market is largely being fuelled by demand accelerating from emerging markets. The increasing market penetration of premium and craft beersBeer Production has also been cited as another key market driver. But despite growth, the beer sector continues to face a multitude of challenges. Specifically, this article focuses on the environmental issues and regulatory challenges that that the brewery industry must overcome.

Environmental Impact of Beer Production

Despite there being substantial improvements over the years, water consumption and wastewater disposal continue to create environmental hurdles that directly impact breweries and the brewing process. This is because the brewing process is extremely energy intensive, and uses substantial volumes of water.

As water scarcity intensifies throughout the world, stable water supplies for businesses such as breweries decrease. This is a particularly critical issue for breweries located in already water-stressed areas. At the same time, beer making relies heavily on agriculture (as its main ingredients are hops, barley and yeast). These key ingredients are sensitive to subtle changes in temperature, which can limit the ability to deliver produce of consistent quality and quantities.

These critical issues are often attributed to climate change. To help alleviate them, many breweries are finding innovative solutions to integrate sustainability into their business practices. Equally, many breweries are optimising their processes, and are adopting energy-saving and water management strategies.

Looming Government Legislation

Breweries are not only battling environmental issues, they also have to face stringent government regulations. The US in particular has significant obstacles that need to be overcome. In particular, there is sweeping legislation under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This has considerable implications for both food and beverage companiesbeer production.

Before the FSMA was introduced, the brewing sector historically had minimal food safety regulation. Breweries instead were regulated by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The cohesive agreement was that, because beer was not a food item, it should not be subject to the same types of food safety regulations imposed on food.

However, this mindset has been jolted significantly, with the inclusion of beer (and other alcoholic drinks) as products covered under the FDA’s most recent legislation. Although beer is an intrinsically safe product, it may, nonetheless, be contaminated at various stages of the brewing process.

So, how will the FSMA impact breweries in the US?

Good Manufacturing Practices

The FSMA includes a number of new requirements, with breweries now required to comply with the FDA standards. What’s more, breweries must implement Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs), which will then be audited by regulatory agencies.

GMPs represent the standards that brewery operations must follow in order to ensure their facility is clean, hygienic and safe. These precautionary measures mitigate risks and help prevent contamination. They also serve as a foundation for quality assurance programs.

Beer firms that fail to comply with the FSMA face the looming prospect of penalties, fines, prosecution and a threat to their credibility. Therefore, it’s fundamental that the beer sector obliges with the specific requirements under FSMA.

Innovative Pigging Solutions

Many breweries are already committed to reducing their impact on the environment and ensuring high sanitation processes. Nevertheless, there are arguably more gains to be had by improving the processes and efficiency of beer production even further.

More so than ever, breweries in the US are implementing pigging technology into their facilities. That’s because the benefits of pigging are substantial.

HPS Product Recovery Solutions have worked with a number of beer manufacturers in both the US and UK to improve their production efficiency, reduce contamination and help improve their carbon footprint. For instance, implementing a pigging solution in one transfer line of a UK brewery is estimated to save around 23,000 litres of de-aerated water per week, and 1.2 mega litres per year.

How Exactly Can Pigging Technology Increase Efficiency?beer production pigging

Many breweries waste a large proportion of product. They also use large volumes of deaerated water for flushing. That’s where HPS Product Recovery Solutions can help, as our pigging solutions eliminate the need for flushing throughout the majority of the brewing process. This is a significant benefit as the product is recovered. As HPS pigs recover up to 99.5% of product, this reduces the risk of products merging or contamination at the beginning of a batch run. Water usage is also reduced considerably, and this can also have an impact on reverse osmosis water costs.

Pigging goes hand in hand with Clean In Place (CIP), which many breweries often implement to keep the insides of the pipework clean. Using pigging technology before CIP significantly improves overall processing efficiency, and provides a better foundation for cleanliness after each product run. Therefore if implemented correctly (by an experienced pigging provider), pigging considerably lessens the time and resources used by CIP systems.

Find out More

HPS Product Recovery Solutions are the world’s leading specialists in pipeline Pigging, product recovery and liquid transfer. For help of advice on increasing yields, improving your production efficiency, minimising the risk of contamination and reducing water usage, please contact HPS.