Brick Lane today announced that they have received B Corp accreditation, which sees them join fellow Australian-based brewing companies Stone & Wood, 4 Pines and Capital Brewing. It makes the Melbourne brewery the country's largest independent brewery to hold the internationally-recognised certification, and comes just weeks on from Capital Brewing announcing their B Corp status.
The news follows a $50 million expansion of Brick Lane's Dandenong South brewery; managing director Paul Bowker (pictured above right with head brewer Jon Seltin) told The Crafty Pint B Corp certification was something they’d been eyeing off since they opened the doors in August 2018.
“We in fact had this in mind even prior to the build process,” Paul says “And also in the way we went about designing the infrastructure of the business, systems, procurement strategies, engagement with customers, consumers and the government and all the way through to our employee value proposition.”
Paul says the formal application kicked off about a year ago and they’ve had a single-minded focus on gaining it since. They’ve also made sure Brick Lane’s entire staff and community were behind the certification and their desire to be a leader in sustainability.
Brick Lane’s sustainability practices include reducing their water usage, diverting 99.3 percent of their solid waste away from landfill, and using only fully recyclable packaging in their own beers and those they make for others. The brewery also installed a specially-designed CO2 vaporiser that enables the recovery and conversion of liquid CO2 to gas that can be used in brewing.
To be accredited by B Corp, businesses don’t just need to meet a high standard when it comes to environmental actions but are considered on their social actions and transparency too.
“B Corp is a holistic approach to building a long-term sustainable business, that is, sustainability in its broad sense rather than just environmental,” Paul says.
Paul says they’ve rolled out a formal employee value proposition based on going through the B Corp process to ensure staff have a well-rounded experience at Brick Lane. That includes running volunteer days and providing flexible work arrangements, education support and recognition awards for staff.
“Staffing is the single most important thing in any business,” Paul says “If you have an engaged and passionate staff that want to grow with the business, the rest follows. We only opened our doors four years ago … and in that time, we have now grown to around a hundred fantastic team members.”
The B Corp process also required Brick Lane to change their constitution to take into account the impact the business has on a wide range of stakeholders, rather than just shareholders. Paul says they’ve intuitively looked at their impact on different stakeholders in the past as it already aligns with their values but B Corp takes it a step further and enshrines it formally.
“For example," Paul says. "We have invested in logistics projects with Orora, one of our key suppliers, to remove plastics from can deliveries. Although this has come at an initial financial cost to Brick Lane, it has improved the sustainability outcomes for both businesses and is now also bringing about financial benefits.”
“All of these decisions focussed on looking after broader stakeholder groups, including the environment, rather than any short or medium term financial gain.”
This story was updated on September 20 to include comments from Paul Bowker, who we corresponded with over email due to Paul being in Europe.
Full Media Release: Brick Lane Brewing becomes a B Corp, sets sights on True Zero brewing by 2025
Independently owned Brick Lane Brewing today announced it had become B Corp Certified, making it one of the few brewing companies in Australia to hold the global standard.
B Corp Certification is a designation made by the US-based not-for-profit B Lab to applicant organisations that can demonstrate high standards of positive social and environmental impact.
Becoming a B Corp is an important milestone in Brick Lane’s strategy, since being founded in 2018, to drive leadership in sustainable beer production among independent brewers in Australia, and to make its operations carbon-free by 2025.
The company’s $50 million investment into a state-of-the-art facility in Melbourne was purpose designed to minimise the environmental footprint in an industry that has traditionally been highly water and energy intensive.
In the space of four years, Brick Lane has built one of the fastest-growing beer portfolios in Australia with brands including Brick Lane, Sunsetter Ginger Beer and the award-winning Sidewinder No Alcohol beers. Brick Lane also operates one of the largest partner-brewing businesses in Australia with a focus on supporting and developing existing and new third-party brands.
Brick Lane Managing Director, Paul Bowker, said B Corp Certification validated the sustainability path Brick Lane had pursued since producing its first can of beer in 2018.
“Sustainability is no longer a negotiable for any organisation that wants to be taken seriously and, from day one, Brick Lane has benchmarked itself against the highest standards of environmental and social impact. Becoming a B Corp shows we are on the right track,” Mr Bowker said.
“Embedding sustainability throughout brewing operations is a journey of continuous improvement and our ambitions go above and beyond the rigorous requirements of B Corp Certification,” he said.
“Ultimately we’re working toward eliminating carbon emissions entirely from beer production by 2025 and by doing so, leading the way for other independent brewers.”
Initiatives undertaken by Brick Lane in recent years, and acknowledged in the B Corp Certification process, include:
- Reducing the ratio of water used to beer produced by 40% to 3.7:1 in 2022 versus the 2019 baseline of 6.1:1.
- Using only fully recyclable packaging across all Brick Lane and partner brands
- Reducing both the electricity and natural gas consumed per unit of beer produced by more than half since 2019. Sourcing all CO2 used in brewing from sustainable fermentation-derived sources rather than from natural gas, ammonia or other fossil fuels
- Moving from artificial to natural refrigerants, eliminating greenhouse gas and ozone depletion potential from refrigeration gasses
- Directing spent grain – the largest waste product in brewing – to farmers in the Greater Melbourne area for use as animal feed. Brick Lane currently diverts 99.3% of solid waste generated away from landfill
“Our talented, dedicated team at Brick Lane deserve credit for their commitment and ingenuity in driving the improvements made to date. But the work doesn’t stop – B Corp Certification is a continuous process and like all B Corps we are accountable for our ongoing performance against its benchmarks,” Mr Bowker said.
“We’re now focused squarely on eliminating carbon emissions from our operations and the electricity we consume to achieve ‘true zero’ brewing. Among other things, that will be supported by significant investment in renewable energy to drive production.”
This year, Brick Lane commenced installation of a 375kW solar project at the Melbourne site, the largest of any independent brewer in Australia. The system will supply 27% of Brick Lane’s energy requirements and save 374 tonnes of annual CO2 emissions – the equivalent of 81 cars off the road. By the end of 2023, Brick Lane expects to be using 100% renewable electricity, to have reduced fugitive CO2 emissions by 50% and to be certified carbon neutral.
To become a B Corp, applicant organisations must exceed benchmarks for social and environmental performance, make a legal commitment to changing their governance structure to be accountable to a wide range of stakeholders, and agree to report publicly on their ongoing performance against B Corp benchmarks.
Brick Lane has amended its company constitution to align with the B Corp movement’s requirement that B Corps take into account the impact of their business operations on a wide range of stakeholders.
Brick Lane has become a recognised leader in the production of no and low alcohol (NoLo) beer, which is now one of the fastest-growing drinks categories in Australia. In July, Brick Lane released consumer research revealing that a third of Australians currently consume NoLo beer, with most survey respondents saying they also expect to increase their consumption of NoLo drinks, including beer.
As well as its own Sidewinder NoLo beer range, Brick Lane also exclusively brews a number of highly awarded NoLo beers, including the popular Heaps Normal no-alcohol beer.
Brick Lane has recently launched a warehouse and logistics business in a new 5,000 square metre facility allowing it to store and deliver beers direct from its site to customers and consumers, creating a vertically integrated brewing production, distribution, wholesale and hospitality business. The investment in direct trucking of finished beer will eliminate an estimated 880 truck movements per year from Brick Lane’s supply chain.