I am proud to call myself an employee of a company that truly invests in its people and planet.  Just a few weeks ago, MillerCoors announced that the Golden brewery, the largest single-site brewery in the United States, is landfill-free. This means that the brewery now reuses or recycles more than 99 percent of its waste.

Golden Brewery Team pictured from left to right: Randy Rea, Fred Linton, Jennifer Endres, Julie Smith, Mike Murphy, Dave Sauer Not pictured: Tyler Shannon, Julie Miller, Kathy Lamas, Shannon Ambrosio, Cory Juillard, Material Management Team, Field Services Team, CARE Team, Kelly Harris

Golden Brewery Team pictured from left to right: Randy Rea, Fred Linton, Jennifer Endres, Julie Smith, Mike Murphy, Dave Sauer. Not pictured: Tyler Shannon, Julie Miller, Kathy Lamas, Shannon Ambrosio, Cory Juillard, Material Management Team, Field Services Team, CARE Team, Kelly Harris

MillerCoors journey to landfill-free started over five years ago. I was working at the Trenton brewery and saw a company goal to reduce our landfill volumes by 15 percent over a five-year period. As I was driving my forklift out to dump a hopper of trash, I realized that almost everything there looked like it could be recycled and I thought, “We can do better than 15 percent.”

I wrote up a business plan to make the Trenton brewery landfill-free. The plant managers asked me what I thought would be the hardest part if they tasked me with making the first ever mega-brewery (10-million-plus barrel) landfill-free. With no hesitation, I told them it would take three things:

  1. A great system
  2. A major culture change that implements world class teamwork
  3. Finding a place for remaining trash after we recycle everything possible

Within the program’s first month, we saw packaging landfill volumes drop 23 percent. That first year was like a whirlwind, and we overcame so many obstacles each day.

We thought it would take five years to to create the world’s first landfill-free mega-brewery, but we did it in only 23 months!

How did we do it so quickly? The answer is simple. We developed a system that is easy to understand because it’s all color-coded. As for finding out what to do with the trash, that became one of the simplest tasks of all. After we reuse/recycle over 99 percent of all of our byproducts, we send what is left to a state-of-the-art facility that uses it to produce steam. Rough estimates are that every two tons of trash creates one megawatt of electricity.

Compactor shipment_sized

Following our accomplishment in Trenton, we were asked by Pete Coors himself to bring the plan to Golden, Colo., the largest single-site brewery in the United States. I remember the first day we pulled up to the brewery and my jaw dropped as I witnessed a behemoth of a brewery.

This week, 18 months ahead of our 2015 goal, we were able to celebrate and officially call the Golden Brewery a landfill-free site. We’ve been able to eliminate an average of 135 tons of waste per month that was previously sent to a landfill.

Truth be told, the journey to landfill-free all started with leadership that believed in its people and great teamwork (few of the team pictured above and below). Cheers to green beer!

Pictured left to right: Tyler Shannon, EHS Specialist, Golden Brewery; Fred Linton, Environmental Engineer, Golden Brewery; Gail Falasco, Territory Manager, Waste Management; Scott Sutherland, Operations Manager, Otto Trucking; Alan Otto, CEO, Otto Trucking

Pictured left to right: Tyler Shannon, EHS Specialist, Golden Brewery; Fred Linton, Environmental Engineer, Golden Brewery; Gail Falasco, Territory Manager, Waste Management; Scott Sutherland, Operations Manager, Otto Trucking; Alan Otto, CEO, Otto Trucking
Photo credit: Tiffany Moehring