New Belgium Brewing Company is working to address several environmental issues, including the usage of non-renewable energy sources, the treatment of waste water, using and wasting less fresh water, and the recycling of as much of the firm’s waste as possible. NBB is the first brewery in the United States to be fully wind-powered, and they encourage their employees and the communities they serve to bike wherever they go, rather than drive. These efforts, along with the planning of opening a new factory to improve logistics of production and distribution, are aimed to help reduce the usage of fossil fuels for energy, and thereby reducing their carbon footprint.
The company uses a system to capture its wastewater and extract methane. This takes some pressure off of the local water treatment facility, as well as providing some power for the brewery itself. The process New Belgium uses to make its beer uses only 3.9 gallons of water to make 1 gallon of beer, while typical companies brew using 4.875 gallons. This twenty percent reduction in water usage adds up quickly to an abundance of water conservation. NBB recycles its cardboard boxes, keg caps, office materials, the amber glass used in bottling, and its wastewater, resulting in ninety-five percent of its total waste being recycled.
New Belgium has put these efforts, as well as many others, to keep a competitive advantage in the brewing industry. The company has two distinct advantages: its image, and the quality and taste of its beer. The quality of the ale is what set the company apart initially. The social responsibility and sustainability that contribute to the brewery’s image keep NBB growing. People want to buy products that they perceive make a difference in society. NBB maintains that image, in appearance and actuality, by keeping strong ties with the communities it serves through volunteer services, green efforts, as well as scholarships and grants that it gives back directly to society.
Any company faces many issues with massive growth. One of the biggest is alienating the initial customer base. The easiest way to alienate is to change your core values to suit your new size. New Belgium Brewing Company has adapted well to growth thus far by keeping their goals of quality brews and sustainability in sight. As they grow, however, a close eye needs to be kept on how well the company adheres to these visions. The entire brand is built on quality and social responsibility. One wrong business move could tarnish their entire reputation. For instance, if the new factory that they are planning on opening is not powered one-hundred percent by renewable energy, the entire company’s sustainability would be called into question. NBB has proven its ability to create a wind-powered brewery in the past, why not continue the trend but for greed and laziness? All companies need to keep their visions in sight when expecting growth.
Segments of society argue that no company that sells alcohol or tobacco could possibly be socially responsible because the products themselves are viewed as detrimental to society. Tobacco and alcohol have been staples of human lives for so long that it’s hard for humans to imagine living without them. Take a look at prohibition; when the United States banned alcohol, alcoholism went up, and people went well out of their way to get it. A business venturing into alcohol sales shouldn’t be reprimanded for their product choice, for if there wasn’t a demand for the product, no business would venture into that market. A product-line choice, in this respect, doesn’t have a bearing on social responsibility. Alcohol, and even tobacco, can be enjoyed responsibly with little to no harm to society. A product-line choice comes into question when the product is a danger to society. Beyond an inherent danger in the product, a company’s social responsibility is determined by its actions.