- Eric Schwartzberg Staff Writer
The Ohio EPA honored the MillerCoors Trenton Brewery in St. Clair Twp. last week for its achievements in environmental stewardship.
Speaking during a flag-raising event at the facility, which employs 515 people, Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler detailed how the brewery achieved gold-level recognition in Ohio EPA’s Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3) program.
MillerCoors has substantially reduced water use, reduced emissions and eliminated waste going to the landfill, Butler said. In addition, the company is heavily engaged in protecting ground water, “understanding that clean water is vital to the company economically and to the local environment and public health,” he said.
“You’ve got a fantastic sustainability program here,” Butler told MillerCoors employees. “This, to us, shows this high level of commitment. You could easily say ‘I collect all this waste. I send it to the landfill. I send it to the waste water plant across the street. We meet our compliance targets and we just move on.’ It takes some really innovative thinking, it takes thinking from the ground up.
“A lot of these (initiatives) are employee driven and that shows a broad level of support and commitment to it, as well.”
Ohio EPA’s E3 program recognizes businesses and other organizations for completing environmentally beneficial activities and serves as an incentive for companies to commit to ongoing environmental stewardship.
E3 recognition has four levels: Achievement, Silver, Gold and the newest Platinum level, all requiring a commitment to meet or exceed environmental regulatory requirements, Ohio EPA officials said.
Achievement is base level recognition, Silver Level recognizes outstanding accomplishments in environmental stewardship and Gold Level recognizes comprehensive environmental stewardship programs.
The company received the Silver Level award in 2014, according to Todd Washing, technical services manager for MillerCoors Trenton Brewery
Only 28 companies statewide have achieved gold-level recognition, and what stands out about each, Butler said, is “teamwork and commitment to (going) beyond environmental compliance.”
“Not just the idea of compliance with state or federal law, but an internal commitment often driven by employees that says ‘We want to do better and we want to be recognized for that,’” he said.
Brewery employees continuously strive to improve in the amount of energy and water used every day, Washing said.
“We all live in these communities nearby, we have neighbors that are fairly close and it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “The fact that we’re being recognized for doing that is just icing on the cake.”
A Sustainability Council comprised of members of each department across the brewery works to identify and track improvement opportunities and sustain those improvements through routine inspections and other standard work, Washing said.
“Mark Koch, our environmental engineer, helps guide their activities to identify new opportunities to reduce our energy and water usage, improve our environmental footprint, things of that nature, and then help sustain those gains after the fact,” he said. “Our employees are really the key to all of the environmental (and) sustainability improvements that you’ve seen over the years.”
The brewery, MillerCoors’ second largest, became the first MillerCoors facility to become a “zero waste” facility. None of the plant’s waste material has gone to landfills since 2009. It is either recycled or sent to businesses that turn food waste into energy production.
Washing said the brewery has reduced overall energy use by 38 percent since 2011, which came from a number of initiatives, including switching from coal-fired utilities plant to a natural gas-fired utilities plant in early 2016.
Doing so reduced emissions by more than 91 metric tons annually, a reduction that contributed to removing a regional low-emission gasoline requirement, saving Southwest Ohio motorists money at the gas pump, company officials said.
MillerCoors Trenton Brewery also has significantly reduced water use, consistently exceeding the industry standard in their water-to-beer ratio, and even set a brewery record last June by using only 2.71 gallons of water for every gallon of beer.
The facility also saved energy by installing more efficient lighting and, on the wastewater side, reducing nutrient discharges to the Great Miami River.
For more about the E3 program and the nomination process, visit www.epa.ohio.gov/ohioe3.aspx.