We performed a screening level LCA in house – which relied on information and data from one local brewery plus survey responses from others in Oregon to model a regional and a national scenario for the two types of kegs for beer to see how distance, number of reuses, and other processes influenced the environmental burdens to deliver beverage for one year. Multiple impact categories were included to assess how the burdens shift and where the hotspots might be since the two types of kegs are made from different materials.
How was the Project Started?
The project was conceived as a direct result of businesses and the Port of Portland asking DEQ for guidance because the plastic kegs were being marketed as more environmentally friendly due to being light weight, not needing cleaning, and being recyclable. In addition, the brewery that reached out to us had read the Food PEF report on Beer where the plastic kegs were not found in the literature review.
When was the Project Started?
When was the Project Completed, or is it Ongoing?
What are the Results to Date?
For the limited scenrios that were tested, it appears that the reusable steel keg has a lower environmental footprint when the distance traveled is within a medium distribution range (regional), and where the return rate of the steel kegs is high. In cases where the product was sent across the country, for example, and where the likelyhood of that keg being returned was low, the plastic kegs were a better choice. Cleaning of steel kegs was found to be a minor contributor to the overall burden, and recycling the plastic kegs did not significantly improve its profile.
What are the Resources Needed, including Time, Cost, Etc.?
LCA modeling, data gathering, research, and project management were conducted internally by DEQ’s materials management staff. Project was sponsored by Fort George Brewery in Astoria, Oregon.
This is an example of how Materials Management was able to answer a critical business decision for a relevant sector in the State. We worked in collaboration with the industry partner and were able to distribute the findings to all who participated. There is no publication as such available because this was a screening level assessment looking into limited scenarios, using limited data set. We are currently soliciting industry – wine and beer makers in the state – to see if a full ISO compliant study is needed for the industries, which will involve gathering more data to represent wider real world cases, and the final study would be peer-reviewed for ISO compliance prior to publication.
- Minal Mistry
- Business Initiatives Lead
- Oregon DEQ