Green beer – now also in brown bottles

Read our article in the Cayman Financial Review Magazine, eversion 

When the Cayman Islands Brewery was founded one of the principles that was integrated into the DNA of the brewery was minimising its environmental impact. This commitment has made the company a leader in green practices, with numerous programmes championing recycling and reuse. 
“My hat is off to the shareholders and the owners for taking the initiative to start with. They came in with a long term view on the environmental platform,” says James Mansfield of the Cayman Islands Brewery.

One of the first initiatives put in place by the brewery was a wastewater treatment facility that cleans up all the wastewater produced by the facility. 

“Basically everything that we produce in terms of wastewater, whether it is from the toilets here or the bottle washing machine, the pasteuriser, anything, goes into the wastewater treatment and is then recycled, and when it comes out of there that water can then be used for irrigation or cleaning of vehicles,” says Mansfield.

A major investment was required for the next step – reusing the Caybrew, Caylight and now Ironshore bottles. A bottle washer was purchased, requiring an investment of almost half a million dollars – quite a risk when no recycling culture had been in place so there was not telling whether any of the bottles would make their way back to the brewery. However, the community has quickly caught on.

“We’re averaging about 40 per cent returns five years into the project, and it’s just education now that will lead to continued growth,” says Mansfield. 

“We’ve launched three brands in bottles which are recycled even though the Ironshore is in a brown bottle rather than the more familiar green of Caybrew and Caylight. We will also be launching White Tip in a clear bottle which we will also recycle.”

Bottles are not the only containers being recycled.

“We recycle aluminium as well and have drop-off centres here, at Calico’s, at Rackams and Billy Bones, so a bunch of bars are getting behind recycling cans as well,” says Mansfield.  Even the spent grains from the brewing process get recycled, this time as cattle feed.

“The more beer that we’re producing now, the more the cows are being fed with the spent grains, so the farmers are happier and the cows are very happy. I like the fact that you are seeing more garden to table menus going into restaurants; they’re using local beef which is being fed partially by the local beer,” says Mansfield. 

There are also other ways in which the brewery is benefitting the environment, with the most recent addition being the creation of White Tip Lager, what may well be the world’s first true conservation beer.

The can features information on sharks and why they should be protected, as well as a code that can be scanned with a smartphone that links to a dedicated shark conservation site. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the beer also goes towards the shark conservation programmes of the Department of Environment. The beer is therefore not only produced in the most environmentally conscious way possible, but also benefits the environment through its sales.

Even though the company already has many initiatives in place, Mansfield says there is always more that can be done.  “We’re looking at a couple of new initiatives, one is to get rid of the  six-packring, because obviously the plastic is not environmentally friendly and is not very good for marine conservation if it is discarded near a beach or in the sea. Before you dispose of the rings, cut them so they do not pose as much of a risk to marine life,” he says.

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