I’m currently working on a five-part series called The CO2 Shortage focused on, as you might guess, the continued regional shortages of beverage-grade CO2 around the country for craft breweries. Maui Brewing Co. has a big say in nearly every part of the series, which is set to post in the next two or so weeks. Among all the CO2 talk, Kim Brisson-Lutz , VP of operations, also discussed some of Maui Brewing’s high-tech, eco-friendly gadgets for recapturing CO2.
“Producing on an island, our CO2 supply is always limited,” said Brisson-Lutz in the upcoming story. “So we invested and continue to invest in a system to help offset the dependance we have on our suppliers. We have a CO2 recovery system, and we will be installing new technology called AirCapture to also produce CO2 for our facility.”
Based in Oakland, AirCapture is a leader in the direct air capture industry. The company’s onsite, modular, DAC units harvest CO2 from the air, or fermentation tanks, then make it available on-demand, for use in everything from breweries to greenhouses. I highly suggest listening to Bob Wilson, cofounder and head of sales and strategy at AirCapture, discuss the technology right here. Maui has also invested in Pentair’s CO2mpactBrew CO2 recovery plant. This recapture unit reduced Maui’s CO2 emissions by over 600,000 lbs in the first year alone, according to Founder Garret Marrero in this case study. Of course CO2 recapture units are just the beginning of Maui Brewing’s eco-focused business practices.
Maui Brewing became the first completely off-grid brewery in the entire United States when it finished a four-year solar installation in 2019 (image above). Solar panels cover the roof of its 85,000-sq-ft production facility. Maui Brewing regularly sends spent grain to farms for cattle. The island brewery even does little grassroots eco pushes like putting together these cool beach cleanup kits to keep the coast clean. Most recently, Maui Brewing announced it’s transitioning to new, more recyclable packaging for all of its products — not only limited to craft beer but also including Maui Brewing’s Island Sodas, Maui Hard Seltzer and Kupu Spirits.
Maui Brewing is moving from those icky plastic rings to 100 percent recyclable cardboard cartons manufactured from sustainably-managed forests in the southeast United States and containing up to 15 percent recycled content. The Coated Natural Kraft (CNK) paperboard is fully recyclable and designed to stand up to the rigorous packaging conditions associated with beverage products that go in and out of refrigeration.
According to the press release, while the company had begun researching the changeover in 2019, a large capital expenditure was required to procure new equipment, move existing machinery and create new space for the equipment including a two-story mezzanine, as well as install and train teammates on operation and maintenance. From the release:
“We’re very excited to showcase the new packaging to our fans,” stated MBC’s Founder and CEO Garrett Marrero. “We always aim to further our commitment to community and the environment, and the new Maui packaging demonstrates this. Our fans have been asking, and we are proud to deliver on our commitment to both sustainability and our investment in Hawaii. I’m also beyond stoked at what our marketing team put together; these look great on the shelves.” The new packaging has already found placements on shelves at Maui Brewing retail partners.
We’re excited to see what’s next, and we’ll keep you updated.