Columbia Brewery environmental health and safety manager Tanya Ducharme flew to Whistler last week and didn’t come home empty-handed. In her carry-on bag was a prestigious Recycling Council of BC 2012 RCBC Environmental Award in the private sector category.
“This award is the acknowledgement of a complete team effort at our brewery,” she said on Monday. “The buy-in to our environmental initiatives by our employees has been amazing.”
The award is another feather in the cap of a Labatt brewery with a long history in Creston.
“Winning this RCBC award demonstrates the commitment and dedication that the Columbia Brewery employees have to sustainability,” Ducharme said. “We’re proud to be acknowledged for improving our business and reducing its impact on the beautiful Kootenay mountain region in which we live and work.”
A tradition of “continuous improvement, sustainability and environmental stewardship” that goes back more than 40 years has contributed to the brewery’s success, she said.
Since launching Labatt’s Better World initiative in 2007, Columbia Brewery has slashed water consumption by 20 per cent, cut fuel usage by 16.9 per cent and reduced electricity use by 7.1 per cent, while recycling 99.4 per cent of waste and byproducts.
Other notable Labatt achievements included starting the practice of recycling spent ingredients as animal feed in 1957, introducing Canada’s first scrap metal aluminum recycling system in 1981 and adopting the industry-wide reusable glass bottle in 1984.
“It’s very encouraging to see private sector firms like Labatt and its Creston brewery committing to sustainable initiatives that take the environmental, economic and social impact into account,” said RCBC CEO Brock Macdonald.
Ducharme said the Creston brewery’s results are also due in part to the Voyager Plant Optimi-zation program as well as Labatt’s innovation program which develops and implements employees’ ideas for reduction, reuse and recycling.
This year, Labatt’s Creston brewery and Brewers Distributor Ltd. tied for top spot in the private sector category after earning exactly the same number of points from the judging committee.
“Ties are extremely unusual, and the fact the co-winners are both from the brewing industry is even more so in a category that includes stiff competition from firms such as Coca-Cola,” said Macdonald. “It’s really indicative of the brewing industry’s focus on sustainability which goes all the way back to reusing the glass bottle.”
The RCBC, which was founded in 1974, is a multi-sectoral, non-profit organization promoting the principles of zero waste through information services, research and the exchange of ideas. It is Canada’s longest-serving recycling council and has played a major role in the establishment of the many groundbreaking product stewardship programs in the province, which are emulated around the world.