Circular thinking is nothing new to Marvin Dyck. For years, the brewmaster at Wellington Brewery has been sending their leftover grain byproducts to local farmers. Still, Dyck wanted to do more to reduce waste at their facilities in Guelph, Ontario, which produce 3.5 million litres of craft beer each year. The question was how. In beverage companies and dairies, waste can be invisible because it disappears down the drain.

That’s where Provision Coalition Inc. came in. This team of food sustainability experts helps food companies grow by making food more sustainably, covering everything from sourcing to waste prevention, leadership and employee training. One way they do that is through their award-winning Food Loss and Waste Prevention Toolkit. Recognized by the United Nations, the toolkit was developed in partnership with Enviro-Stewards: an environmental consulting company from Elmira, Ontario.

The free online resource helps companies determine the economic, social and environmental value of food loss and waste created during processing and manufacturing. It also helps companies calculate the expected return on investment of implementing food waste solutions and initiatives, including the payback period.

In January 2019, engineers from Enviro-Stewards used the toolkit to conduct a multiday assessment at Wellington Brewery. Dyck admits that although it was a little intimidating to have outsiders scrutinize their processes, the experience was positive.

“Everyone was so easy to work with and you didn’t feel judged,” he says. “What we liked about the partnership is that they [Provision Coalition Inc.] understand that business is business. They were able to monetize the cost savings and made sure it was a win-win.”

The assessment revealed that eight to 16 per cent ;of Wellington Brewery’s beer was being wasted, depending on the type of brew. That’s mostly because one piece of equipment—a centrifuge designed to remove excess yeast from the beer—was also sending a fair bit of sellable product down the drain.

Today, those losses are just two to eight per cent, thanks to a little fine-tuning and recalibrating. Meanwhile, the brewery now sends a lot of its yeast waste to Oreka Solutions to feed the ag-tech company’s black soldier flies, which in turn are used as feed for aquaculture operations. Employees have adopted better practices as well, including using less water when cleaning the tanks.

By making small adjustments to reduce food waste, Wellington Brewery has the potential to save $150,000 a year. They have also identified the potential to cut 200 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, as well as make reductions in water, electricity and natural gas use. The project has helped staff gain a new perspective by showing them the hidden environmental costs of food waste—like the greenhouse gas emissions created by the tractor used to grow the barley, the trucks used to ship it from Saskatchewan or the energy used to malt and dry it.

“It changes your whole frame of mind,” says Dyck. “It makes you proud that the company can be part of that.”

Wellington Brewery is one of the Guelph-Wellington companies selected to participate in the next phase of the Our Food Future program, working with Provision Coalition Inc. to embed circularity into their business. The program will help them implement the circular economy solutions identified in the assessment, identify new opportunities to create circularity from their waste streams and quantify the food loss and waste reductions they achieve.

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