What Do You Do with Expired and Leftover Beer?

Businesses, breweries, and stadiums go through gallons of beer every year. But what happens to expired and leftover beer? Because of its ingredients, you cannot pour it down the drain or into any bodies of water as it will cause environmental damage.

This has left businesses and breweries with the daunting task of managing millions of gallons of unused beer. Whether you decide to dispose of it alongside a hazardous waste disposal company or recycle it into a new product, finding the ideal solution isn’t always easy.

Keep reading to learn more about the intricacies of recently expired disposal developments, innovative solutions, and future directions in beer waste management.

The Nature of Beer Disposal

Beer disposal isn’t as simple as pouring it down the drain or letting it sink into the grass. Beer contains organic materials like yeast and turns into alcohol, which pose environmental hazards if disposed of incorrectly.

We are not talking about a six-pack in your fridge or leftover case in the garage. There is potential for environmental damage with expired or leftover beer at the sites of stadiums or breweries.

The decomposition of beer ingredients in water bodies can increase biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), affecting the oxygen levels crucial for aquatic life. High BOD levels endanger fish and other marine organisms by reducing oxygen levels.

According to the EPA, “Oxygen is measured in its dissolved form as dissolved oxygen (DO). If more oxygen is consumed than is produced, dissolved oxygen levels decline, and some sensitive animals may move away, weaken, or die.”

In 2016, Yuengling and Son were required to pay nearly $10 million in fines as a result of violating “discharge limits for biological oxygen demand (BOD), phosphorus, zinc and pH to the GPASA treatment plant, at least 141 times from 2008 to 2015.” These fines included penalties and requirements to improve environmental measures at their worksites.

It’s also important to note that beer disposal introduces an imbalance in water systems by altering pH levels and increasing total suspended solids (TSS).

The brewery discharge contains “high levels of leftover suspended solids, mainly the yeasts, hops, other grains, and sugars,” which are difficult for water treatment plants to break down. As these ingredients are released into municipal treatment plants, the wastewater becomes liable to government oversight and penalties once everything reaches a certain level.

To mitigate these risks, businesses must consider the environmental implications of beer disposal. Traditional methods such as sewer disposal, are not feasible or environmentally responsible, so you must find unique ways to recycle your beer or work with a hazardous waste disposal company to remove it from your worksite.

Innovative Disposal and Recycling Efforts

The brewery industry has it covered when it comes to adopting creative and sustainable practices for managing beer waste.

Wanting to avoid the hazards and penalties of improper disposal, breweries have explored various avenues for repurposing expired and leftover beer and other by-products of the brewing process.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, breweries converted expired beer into hand sanitizer. Brewers poured the expired beer into the fermenter and dumped it into two sills to distill the alcohol content from expired beer into hand sanitizer.

One brewery stated, “One pallet of expired beer will yield about 11 gallons of hand sanitizer.”

That being said, businesses are now stuck with an overabundance of hand sanitizer, which needs to be disposed of by hazardous waste companies.

Another recyclable made from expired and leftover beer is turning it into energy. Companies like Vanguard transform expired beer into natural gas, and in Australia, a wastewater treatment plant combines old beer with sewage sludge to power the entire building.

These systems address the environmental impact of brewery operations and create a renewable energy source.

If you ever saw the brand Regrained at the grocery store, you might be surprised to learn that spent grains, a by-product of the brewing process, have been expanded beyond traditional animal feed.

Upcycled Food Inc. has started producing baked goods, granola bars, and even dog treats from spent grains, showcasing the potential for upcycling to reduce waste. 

Additionally, some breweries have partnered with agricultural and environmental projects to use spent grains as compost or as a substrate for mushroom cultivation, further contributing to sustainability efforts.

The Future of Beer Waste Management

Developing new technologies and practices is crucial in minimizing the environmental footprint of beer production and disposal.

Companies like Epic Cleantec use systems that capture and reuse water to create a more sustainable beer product. They hope to develop a system where a building can reuse 95 percent of its water.

Research into the potential for beer by-products to be used in creating eco-friendly building materials or as a base for renewable fuels could open up new avenues for sustainable development. For example, studies have revealed that grains from breweries can be used to make bricks that are better insulators than traditional bricks.

The collaboration between breweries, government agencies, environmental organizations, and the scientific community will be essential in driving these advancements. 

How Can HWH Environmental Help with Expired and Leftover Beer?

If you’re a brewery with an inventory of expired and leftover beer, it’s time to call HWH Environmental, a hazardous waste disposal company that works with you to help avoid costly penalties and fines.

When you call HWH Environmental, you won’t speak with a bot or an answering service. Our team has real humans on the other end of the line to ensure you get the high-quality hazardous waste disposal services you deserve.

In addition, we are not tied to specific vendors or disposal solutions, which means we save our customers 20% over our competitors and, in some cases, up to 50%.

Do you have expired or leftover beer that needs disposing? What about other hazardous waste? Call HWH Environmental today.

author avatar
Alaina Halsey