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Evaluating the Greenhouse Gas Emissions in the Craft Beer Industry: An Assessment of Challenges and Benefits of Greenhouse Gas Accounting

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2021, 15:54 authored by Rachel Shin, Cory Searcy
A growing number of companies in the brewery industry have made commitments to measure and reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, many brewers, particularly craft brewers with relatively low rates of production, have not made such commitments. The purpose of this research was to investigate the challenges and benefits of measuring and reducing GHG emissions in the craft brewery industry. The research was conducted in Ontario, Canada, which has seen strong recent growth in the craft brewery industry. A case study and semi-structured interviews among Ontario Craft Brewers were conducted. The case study found that indirect (scope 3 GHGs under the WBCSD & WRI GHG Protocol) GHG sources accounted for 46.4% of total GHGs, with major sources from barley agriculture, malted barley transportation, and bottle production. Direct emissions (scope 1) accounted for only 14.9% of GHGs, while scope 2 emissions, comprised mainly of energy consumption, accounted for 38.7% of GHGs. The case study used case company primary data, and secondary data such as emission factors from external sources. The case study and interviews found that the main challenges in calculating brewery GHGs are secondary data availability, technical knowledge, and finances. The semi-structured interviews, which used prepared interview questions and probes to encourage follow-up answers, also found that the main benefits for Ontario breweries to measure their GHGs include sustainability marketing and preserving the environment. The interviews also found a poor understanding of carbon regulation among Ontario Craft Brewers, which is interesting considering that Ontario implemented a provincial cap and trade program in 2017.

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