Canada Is About to Get Its First Carbon-Negative Brewery

Karbon Brewing Co. hopes to quantify CO2 emissions and reverse them technologically.

Karbon Brewing Co.

Karbon Brewing Co.

Karbon Brewing Co. wants to become Canada's first carbon-negative brewery by 2024. The process of brewing beer is notoriously resource-intensive, using large amounts of water, energy, and heat, while generating significant quantities of packaging waste. Toronto-based Karbon hopes to solve these industry problems by tackling them more methodically than any other Canadian brewery to date. 

Its ambitious goal is explained in a press release:

"Unlike other large-scale breweries that produce high emissions during their production cycle, being completely carbon negative means that Karbon’s CO2 footprint is far less than neutral. This allows Karbon Brewing Co. to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere as opposed to adding to it."

Karbon plans to achieve this by relying more on technological solutions than carbon offsets, although offsets will be used occasionally. Right now the brand is working to map its carbon footprint, with the help of a tech company that has created carbon accounting software that could eventually be applied to the entire brewing industry across North America. Once quantified, Karbon will be able to figure out which solutions are most effective at negating all of its emissions by 2024. A spokesperson told Treehugger,

"Their focus is on finding technology solutions to reverse their footprint – technology such as filters, CO2 recyclers, CO2 capture machines, and renewable energy. Karbon's plan is to tap into government grants and actually innovate solutions to apply to the brewing process. A huge focus of sustainability will be upstream supplier relations and downstream waste."

The company is analyzing its packaging, too, and working with a supplier to create biodegradable 4- and 6-pack drink holders, recyclable can sleeves, and more (details on what kinds of materials these would include were not provided). The spokesperson added, "Many eco-friendly packing solutions do not exist at scale in the brewing industry and they are hoping to change that." 

beer cans
Karbon Brewing Co.

It's not clear where Karbon stands on refillable, reusable glass beer bottles, which have long been a viable green business model for breweries around Ontario. They also may be healthier than aluminum cans, which often have a BPA-infused epoxy in the lining that has been found to leach into the drink. (Lloyd Alter has warned Treehugger readers about this risk many times over the years.)

The company says it is committed to using local ingredient suppliers as much as possible, which helps to reduce its carbon footprint and builds a more secure supply chain. Here you can see a lovely handful of hops grown just a few hours away from Toronto. 

It's great to see a brewery talking and thinking about sustainability in serious, comprehensive way. In the words of co-founder Stephen Tyson, "Traditionally the innovation in the craft beer industry has been around new recipe development and beer style. We wanted to change the focus towards the brewing process and cleaning up the supply chain." 

If Karbon Brewing Co. is able to prove that carbon negativity is feasible, then hopefully other companies will adopt similar practices – and then customers will come to expect it as part of a socially responsible business.

Karbon plans to be sold at LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) stores, beer stores, and grocery stores across the province (it's currently in the LCBO's application phase), and it will offer direct delivery in the near future. The company has also signed up for 1% for the Planet to support local non-profits.

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