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Breweries, Bars Latest Crop of Businesses Making Creative Use of Waste

Image Credit: Garage Project

Closed-loop cocktails are officially a thing thanks to Operation Dagger, a popular Singapore-based bar and one of Asia’s best watering holes.

Single-use is practically unheard of in this trendy spot, where every ingredient is given a second life, be it a vanilla pod or recycled receipt.

“The idea of closed loop for me is an ingredient that doesn't just have a beginning and an end,” Luke Whearty, Owner and head bartender at Operation Dagger, told CNBC. “If one element of an ingredient is used for a drink, we’ll use a different element for something else, kind of like how a chef works with prime cuts and uses secondary cuts for another dish.”

Whearty and his crew apply the principle to both sips and snacks: squeezed lemons are transformed into limoncello before making their way to the compost bin; discarded egg yolks resulting from egg white-infused libations are cured and smoked before being featuring in Dagger’s signature “The Egg” cocktail; and byproducts from distilled roasted macadamia nuts are transformed into dishes such as broccolini with macadamia cream. The bar also makes its own wine from unexpected inputs such as cabbages, figs, beetroot and carrots.

“We’re essentially closing the loop in terms of waste,” said Whearty. “I’m a big believer that if you can make a small difference, you should. It’s quite a defeatist attitude to say the problem is too big.”

While Whearty is already blazing trails with Dagger, the serial entrepreneur revealed that he has plans to take the circular cocktail concept a step further. Next up on the agenda is a bar in Melbourne that uses only ingredients indigenous to Australia.

Meanwhile, a brewery in Toronto’s west end is busy extending the life of its byproducts by repurposing spent grain into everything from dog treats to baked goods and animal feed.

“It’s potential is unlimited,” Steve Himel, Co-Founder and general manager of Henderson Brewing Company told the Toronto Star. “We take out what we want and pass it on to someone else who takes out what they want. And we both end up getting what we need.”

Spent grain constitutes 85 percent of brewing byproduct and when you consider how much grain actually goes into the making of beer — around 175kg for 1,000 liters of beer — it adds up, and fast. So much so that brewers are practically giving the stuff away. Henderson pays a food processing company to deliver brewing byproduct — approximately 8,000 kg per week — to farmers to use as mulch. The brewery splits the rest between itself to make dog treats and a local restaurant, which turns it into bread and pizza dough.

SBIO’16 finalist ReGrained is yet another brand keen on ‘brewing good.’ Founders Daniel Kurzrock and Jordan Schwartz have partnered with California craft breweries to put a revolutionary twist on the average snack, using spent grain to produce granola bars.  

Wellington-based brewery Garage Project has also adopted a similar model, working with the Bioresource Processing Alliance (BPA) and veterinary scientists from AgResearch and Massey University to create nutritious treats for dogs from their malted barley waste stream.

Before embarking on its Mashbone Brewery Bites venture, the small brewery was donating its leftover barley to a local community garden to use as compost and providing farmers with the remainder to use as feed. While the arrangement worked well, it wasn’t the most economical option. Garage quickly realized the economic opportunities that could be reaped from rethinking its waste stream and decided to take the plunge.

Together with BPA, Ag Research and Massey University, the company developed a recipe that combined its spent grain — a high protein, high fiber raw material —with grass-fed beef and free-range eggs to create a balanced treat that dogs love and owners can feel good about giving their four-legged companions.

In both cases, Henderson and Garage are managing the full lifecycle of their products, while meeting an unmet consumer demand for sustainable, premium products and generating new revenue streams. 

Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]

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