Anchor Brewing, San Francisco’s oldest brewery, just added an on-site water treatment plant to their operations that has the capacity to recycle up to 20 million gallons annually — equivalent to water usage for more than 1,300 residents.
It takes an average of seven gallons of water to produce one gallon of beer. While beer is 95% water, the majority of the water entailed in the production of beer involves equipment cleaning and bottle rinsing. The new facility, created by water treatment and reuse solution company Cambrian Innovation, will treat the water Anchor uses for cleaning and rinsing so it can be used again. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which approved the facility, said Anchor expects to see substantial water savings by January of next year. SFPUC allocated a $1 million grant to the project under its Onsite Water Reuse Grant Program, which funds business efforts to conserve drinking water by treating and reusing non-potable water. The program grants breweries between $250,000 and $1 million in funding based on the amount of potable water they can save. It is part of a broader effort by the California government to conserve water amidst its ongoing drought.
The brewing industry is reducing its environmental impact in other ways, too. Back in May, The Florida Brewery contracted Cambrian to help it treat its wastewater so it could be discharged directly to the city sewer instead of trucked off site. In August, Anheuser-Busch invested $64 million to install solar panels and emissions reduction equipment at its Los Angeles brewery. And in September, AB announced that it will produce aluminum cans with its lowest ever carbon footprint in Europe.
Because effluent disposal costs run high, water treatment and reuse efforts can save breweries money in addition to conserving natural resources.