Widmer Brothers Brewing, Oregon State University grad honored for pollution prevention

March 13, 2019
EPA, Oregon DEQ presented the Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Award for partnership to reduce wastewater pollution.
EPA, Oregon DEQ presented the Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Award for partnership to reduce wastewater pollution.

PORTLAND, OR, MARCH 13, 2019 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality presented the Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Award to Widmer Brothers Brewing and honored Oregon State University graduate Alan Haynes for their partnership to reduce wastewater pollution and achieve cost savings. The awards were presented in a ceremony at Widmer Brothers Brewery with Oregon Sea Grant, OSU, Craft Brew Alliance, City of Portland, and the Pollution Prevention Resource Center.

EPA's Pollution Prevention (P2) program provides funding to states and non-profit organizations that collaborate with businesses to develop innovative, non-regulatory solutions to environmental problems, while fostering economic growth and workforce development. EPA's Smart Sectors Initiative supports broader public/private partnerships across industries by providing a platform to collaborate with regulators to develop sensible approaches that better protect the environment and public health.

"Oregon's pollution prevention internship program is a prime example of the public/private partnerships EPA supports through our P2 program and Smart Sectors Initiative," said Tony Barber, director of EPA's Region 10 Oregon Operations Office. "In both programs, our goal is to promote and develop creative, non-regulatory solutions to environmental problems, while fostering economic growth across all industries."

Supported by EPA P2 grant funding, DEQ worked with Oregon Sea Grant and OSU to develop the Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience, a statewide internship program that connects students with businesses to research waste prevention. Widmer Brothers Brewing, part of the Craft Brew Alliance, was the first Oregon business to volunteer to host a P2 intern project. Alan Haynes, an OSU engineering graduate, completed a 10-week internship with Widmer focused on preventing waste and reducing wastewater at the brewery.

"In just two years, the OASE intern program has successfully placed 14 students with various entities to provide hands-on environmental learning experiences and develop Oregon's environmental workforce," said Leah Feldon, Deputy Director of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. "The program's successful work with Widmer Brothers exemplifies how we can collaborate to achieve the state's waste reduction and sustainability goals while realizing important business outcomes."

Widmer implemented Haynes' recommendations, which included diverting brewing yeast to be repurposed off-site and increasing its wastewater solids monitoring. The environmental and cost savings results were significant. Widmer reduced 60 percent, or 6,000 pounds, of discharges of Total Suspended Solids, and 11 percent, or 10,000 pounds, of Biological Oxygen Demand, a water pollution indicator. Widmer is now saving over $150,000 a year after identifying operational changes and equipment to reduce pollutants and wastewater discharges at the brewery.

"Alan Haynes' work with Widmer Brothers Brewery is an excellent example of the type of mutually beneficial experience that we hope every student and host have as part of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality/Oregon Sea Grant P2 Intern program," said Shelby Walker, director of Oregon Sea Grant. "I'm delighted that his project was so well received and recognized."

For its innovative work in pollution prevention and sustainability, Widmer Brothers Brewing received the 2018 Most Valuable Pollution Prevention award from the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable. For 20 years, the National Pollution Prevention Roundtable has recognized outstanding efforts across the U.S. to encourage others to develop P2 projects.

"The work kicked off by the pollution prevention internship led to significant, measurable impacts on the brewery and as a result, cleaner wastewater is being discharged," said Julia Person, Widmer Brothers Brewing's sustainability manager. "We are honored to be the recipient of the MVP award, and the support of the EPA P2 program, Oregon DEQ and Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience were integral to our success at the brewery."

Between 2011-2016, EPA Region 10 awarded $3.1 million in grants leveraging $2.4 million in State, Tribal, and other matching dollars, resulting in $101.3 million in costs saved by businesses, a reduction of 10.2 million pounds of hazardous materials, 644.4 million gallons of water conserved, and nearly 1 million metric tons of CO2e emissions prevented.

More information on EPA's Pollution Prevention program is available at: https://www.epa.gov/p2