Fat Tire producer New Belgium Brewing has achieved platinum recognition, the highest certification level possible from the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council (USZWBC) for its waste reduction efforts as the brewery now diverts 99.9 percent waste away from landfills.

“Being environmental stewards has been important to New Belgium since day one 25 years ago, and our efforts toward mitigating and managing our waste are a key component of this stewardship,” says Nick Ampe, environmental health specialist at New Belgium.

New Belgium scored 69 out of 80 points across categories such as reduce, redesign, zero waste purchasing, leadership and innovation, with highest scores falling in the categories of reduce, reuse and zero waste purchasing.

To achieve this certification, New Belgium has taken a number of steps to improve its zero waste efforts. Over the years, New Belgium has phased out paperboard dividers from all bottled beer packages, reducing the amount of paperboard the brewery uses by more than 460 tons annually. The brewery carried out a waste audit of more than 500 waste collection points across the facility, identifying best management practices and end-of-life scenarios for each material. Most recently, an industrial composting application was identified for some heavy, organic material at the brewery’s process water treatment plant which previously could not be composted, further improving upon the waste diversion ratio. In addition, care is taken to avoid disposable products across the brewery, from the employee kitchen’s dishware and utensils to the use of reusable dunnage for shipping and the reuse of malt supersacks and bottlecap octobins for recycling collection.

The brewery also advocates for continued advancements in recycling infrastructure and viability for its product packaging, most recently co-founding the Glass Recycling Coalition. This coalition supports improvements in glass recycling rates, which continue to be low in many parts of the country, including New Belgium’s home states of Colorado and North Carolina. As proponents of the concept of Extended Producer Responsibility, the brewery strives to hold itself accountable for ensuring its product packaging’s end of life is in a recycling stream.