The leftover malt and adjuncts after the brewing process has extracted most of the sugars, proteins, and nutrients, constitutes the largest portion of waste in our brewery and most other breweries. Every time we brew a batch of beer at Carbon Brews, we produce over half a tonne of spent grain. Most breweries in Hong Kong treat it as general waste and send it straight to landfill sites as it is the most cost-effective option.
In some countries, breweries are able to work with local farmers to turn spent grain into compost and animal feed, since it is still rich in certain nutrients. Recently, some breweries around the world have developed the capacity to dehumidify spent grain and mill it into flour for baking and cooking.
In Hong Kong, there are not many viable options to recycle this large amount of food waste on a regular basis.
Spent grain burger, anyone?
Organic Resources Recovery Centre (ORRC)
At Carbon Brews, 100% of our spent grain is delivered to the government’s Organic Resources Recovery Centre (ORRC1) in Siu Ho Wan. At ORRC, a treatment plant turns food waste into either compost or biogas for electricity generation.
Although the renewable energy generated this way only contributes to a small portion of all electricity generated in Hong Kong currently (estimated to be enough for 5000 households per year), we welcome the plans to open more Organic Resources Recovery Centres to recycle more food waste in Hong Kong.
After brewing, more specifically, after boiling of the wort (the sugary liquid that is about to turn into beer), large amount of water is used to cool it down to below 20C using a heat exchange. The basic mechanism of a heat exchange is that one type of cold fluid (water in our case) goes in from one end to cool down the other type of fluid (wort) which runs in parallel and separate tubes/pipes. What comes out is therefore: cooled wort and hot water. In our brewery, this hot water is recycled and used in the next brewing as brewing water.
Our waste glass bottles are collected and recycled by Government’s contractor. Used aluminium cans and waste plastics are recycled by local collectors.
Government organisations, producers and consumers all have to do their part to reduce and recycle waste. We hope that as a responsible beer drinker, you will also join us in recycling more of your used cans, bottles and cartons.