If you’re a fan of real ale, then you may have often wondered what happens to the waste products that go into making a pint of your favourite tipple. Naturally, the big companies are able to recycle the waste they produce, but what about smaller independent microbreweries? A new grant from the University of York is helping these smaller breweries to dispose of the waste they correct in an environmentally friendly way.

The microbrewery industry has grown incredibly quickly over the last few years. Sometimes known as “craft brewing”, it is now one of the most lucrative industries to be in. New breweries are being set up across the UK, and are proving incredibly popular with ale drinkers of all ages.

One of the problems microbreweries face as an industry, is what to do with the waste chemicals that are produced by the brewing process. Luckily, the University of York’s Bio-renewable Development Centre have come up with a way to harness the waste chemicals created by the micro-brewing process.

As well as creating a tasty and refreshing pint, many of the chemicals that result from the brewing process can be used in a variety of different industries. Hop oil, for instance, can be reused in the flavour or fragrance industries. Yeast can be used in the treatment of waste-water. And the phospholipid chemicals that are produced, can be extracted for use in the cosmetics industry.

All these chemicals are of high financial value, but at the moment many breweries are losing out because they are unable to separate them. The BDC research was launched with a view to helping smaller breweries understand “the commercial feasibility of green projects.”

At the moment, spent grains, hops and yeast are sold on for little or no profit or they’re removed at a cost to the brewer. This is obviously having an impact on many smaller breweries, and the BDC are keen to support them with a funding grant, which will provide 64% of the funding for the equipment needed to develop innovative bio-renewable based products and processes.

Dr. Mark Grannow of the BDC, speaking to the Yorkshire Post, explained that the aim of the project was to “improve the profitability of the microbrewing process and their sustainability credentials.”

The project is hoping to attract over 20 breweries, and is to be funded by the European Regional Development Fund. At the moment it’s only available to breweries in the Yorkshire and Humber areas of the country, but if successful there’s a strong possibility it could be rolled out across the UK.

Business Development Unit Manager at the BDC, Dr. Fabien Deswarte said “this is a fantastic opportunity for (breweries) to invest in innovative green technologies, for example by turning their plant or food wastes into useful products.”

Initiatives like these prove that no matter how small your business, you can always find ways to recycle your waste. Something to mull over whilst you’re supping your pint!

Read the full article from the Yorkshire Post here!