New Belgium Brewing is all about sustainability, recently expanded its three-person Fort Collins- based sustainability team and bringing on Sarah Fraser as the new Sustainability Specialist at their Asheville, N.C., brewery. Fraser will start her new role in spring 2017 after the birth of her first child, to support New Belgium’s sustainability and environmental stewardship programs as they pertain to the Asheville brewery and operations.
Why sustainability matters in brewing
The brewing industry, now with 5,000 breweries nationwide and contributing more than $55 billion to the economy and supporting nearly half a million jobs in 2014, according to the Brewers Association, has deep economic and workforce impacts on communities and families. Beer is an agricultural product that relies on healthy rivers and thriving farmland to thrive and survive. In addition to watershed health, the quality and yield of hops and barley crops are vulnerable to the erratic and unpredictable weather patterns caused by climate change.
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With a Bachelors in biology from Appalachian State University and a master’s degree in environmental studies from the College of Charleston, Fraser has worked and volunteered at environmental non-profits and government agencies in the realm of natural resource management and land conservation. Most recently, Fraser was serving guests in New Belgium’s Asheville Liquid Center and leading sustainability-based volunteer opportunities for coworkers.
“I look forward to working in our community and industry to promote responsible business practices and environmental policy to create a vibrant and sustainable future for our planet,” says Fraser. “To make a difference in addressing climate change and other environmental issues facing us today, we need everyone engaged in finding solutions from our business leaders to our elected officials and private citizens.”
New Belgium’s commitment to sustainability
New Belgium, based in Fort Collins, Colo., opened their second brewery in Asheville, N.C., this year and will be selling beer nationally by 2017. The Certified B Corporation is recognized for its high-involvement culture where its 800 employee-owners work hard, play hard and give back to their communities. New Belgium gives $1 per barrel of beer sold to non-profits in communities. To date, the company has donated more than $16 million to sustainability non-profits through grants, Tour de Fat, and other event sponsorships.
An employee vote in 1999 led New Belgium to become the first brewery in the nation to purchase 100 percent of its electricity from wind power. In 2013, the company re-evaluated and implemented its own Internal Electricity Tax, where a coworker team works closely with all departments to prioritize spending of that money on internal efficiency and renewable energy projects. Always striving for measurable sustainable improvements in brewing through lowering GHG emissions, water conservation and generating onsite renewable electricity, New Belgium is also a leader in sustainability advocacy in the industry, co-founding the Glass Recycling Coalition in 2016 and leading the establishment of a coalition for Brewers for Clean Water in 2013.