Beer lovers, get ready to raise a glass to a more sustainable future! In the coming months, CHEERS workshops will be popping up across the EU, offering a chance for beer enthusiasts, industry professionals, academics and communities alike to explore the environmental impact of their favourite beverage.

Led by Earthwatch Europe, these workshops promise to be dynamic and informative, delving into the hidden environmental costs and potential benefits associated with every stage of brewing, from the farm where barley is grown to the empty bottle (or can) left behind. Participants will explore water usage, energy consumption, raw materials, waste management, and even the environmental impact of packaging.

Here are some key themes and issues that will be discussed:

The CHEERS approach

The CHEERS project aims to revalorise under-utilised or waste by-streams from the brewing industry for subsequent conversion into five high value-added industrial bio-products through a biorefinery approach. The initiative proposes to achieve a reduction in the resource use and environmental impact of the beer production chain and aims to cover wider impacts on biodiversity and agricultural land use. How to measure this potential environmental impact and communicate it is a key aim of the workshops.

Democratisation through co-design

Co-design is a collaborative approach to designing solutions where the people who will be impacted are actively involved in the process from the beginning. This means they are not just providing feedback on a finished product, but rather working alongside designers and other stakeholders to create something that truly meets their needs. Through using this approach, all stakeholders will have agency in CHEERS actions by taking part in the workshops.

Water – A Precious Resource

Future workshops will highlight the significant amount of water used in brewing, not just during the process itself, but also in growing barley. Participants will learn about water conservation strategies breweries will be implementing, like optimizing cleaning procedures and even reusing process water.

Waste Not, Want Not

Spent grains, yeast, and hop waste – what will the future hold for these leftover materials? Workshops will emphasize the importance of waste reduction and reuse. Participants will learn how spent grains can be used for animal feed, energy drinks, and to create other high-value products, giving them a second life.

But the learning won’t stop there. Future workshops will feature interactive activities where participants will brainstorm solutions to both attempt to measure the potential impact of CHEERS actions, and also communicate that impact to potential stakeholders. Imagine the creativity and commitment that will emerge from beer enthusiasts who want to enjoy their favourite beverage with a greener conscience!

The workshops will conclude with a final demonstration event at the CHEERS demonstration plant in Spain. From water conservation to waste reduction, the CHEERS actions will prove that delicious beer and environmental responsibility can go hand in hand.

By making informed choices and supporting sustainable brewers, we can all raise a glass to an eco-friendlier future for our favourite beverage. So, the next time you enjoy a beer, remember the journey from grain to glass, and let’s all strive to make it a journey with a lighter environmental footprint.