Beam Suntory turns to anaerobic digestors to reduce emissions at its Boston distillery

Beam Suntory, the company that owns spirits such as Jim Beam, plans to invest more than $400m to expand production at its Boston-based distillery, including the installation of anaerobic digestors to create green gas.

Beam Suntory turns to anaerobic digestors to reduce emissions at its Boston distillery

Image: Beam Suntory

Beam Suntory will invest more than $400m to expand the capacity at its Booker Noe distillery in Boston by 50%. Investments in anaerobic digestors will aim to reduce the emissions of this expanded site by 50%.

The company has entered into an agreement with 3 Rivers Energy Partners to build a facility across the street from the distillery to convert spent stillage into biogas. The renewable biogas will then be piped back into the facility.

Beam Suntory claims that once the expansion is completed in 2024, 65% of power needed for the distillery will come from renewable natural gas, with the remaining sourced from fossil-based natural gas.

The digestors will also produce a high-quality, low-cost fertilizer, which will be made available to local farmers.

Additional investments will also be made into high-efficiency gas boilers to maximise the use of the biogas and use scrubbing technology to remove carbon dioxide from fermentation tanks. This purification process will see more than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide reused on the site annually.

“We are committed to making a difference by investing in cleaner technologies and systems, and the expansion and significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from this project does just that with our biggest brand,” the company’s chief executive Albert Baladi said.

“This expansion will help ensure we meet future demand for our iconic bourbon in a sustainable way that supports the environment and the local community that has helped build and support Jim Beam.”

The company is aiming to halve emissions from its direct operations by 2030 against a 2019 baseline. The firm’s latest sustainability report, released last week, confirms that Beam Suntory has reduced Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 12%. The company is yet to build towards a 30% reduction in Scope 3 emissions for the same timeframe, but has started working with suppliers to map out data on “net-zero emissions roadmaps”.

Beam Suntory has also increased the use of renewables across its global sites to nearly 100%, utilising a range of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) and onsite installations.

Earlier in the year, craft brewer BrewDog announced the commissioning of a new onsite bio-energy plant at its Ellon headquarters near Aberdeen, in a move that will reduce emissions by powering facilities with self-generated green gas.

BrewDog has invested £12m into its bio-energy plant, which features an onsite anaerobic digester that will process the majority of the 200 million litres of wastewater that is produced at the company’s Ellon brewery each year.

The digester will treat both wastewater and spent yeast and hops from the brewing process to create biomethane. The gas will be used to power the brewery’s boilers and looks set to reduce emissions at the site by more than 7,500 tonnes annually once the plant is running at full capacity. The gas will be used to power the production of more than 176 million pints of beer each year.

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