Recently the UK hosted the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow, bringing world leaders together to commit to urgent global climate action.
At Black Isle we cherish our natural environment and keep it at the forefront of the work that we do. So for the 12 days of COP26 we shared a different way that we, the Black Isle Brewery team, are working to reduce our carbon footprint, and positively impact our environment. That's 12 Days/12 Ways.
WAY ONE - Organic Brewing
At Black Isle Brewery we brew great organic beer, and have done for 23 years, but even now there’s still a lot of confusion as to what this means. It’s simple really, we only use organic ingredients, grown on farms without chemicals, as nature intended. Organic production promotes biodiversity, helps wildlife, and provides a mixed and sustainable ecology for flora and fauna to thrive. This is why we have always brewed organic beer, and why we’ll continue to innovate, within the parameters of our organic designation. As organic brewers we pay more for our hops and barley, but we believe that some things are just worth paying for.
WAY TWO - Organic Farming
By avoiding the use of any harmful chemicals, working within the rhythms of the natural world and gardening in a way which supports wildlife habitat we are continuously enhancing the land we are working with. This simply means we are creating a beautiful, healthy environment in which we can grow beautiful, healthy produce to end up on our tables.
WAY THREE - Waste Reduction
After we brew, we use the spent grain to feed our livestock. Any remaining draff is combined with green waste from the garden and wood chippings from local tree surgeons to produce the compost in which we grow all our veg - this ‘closed loop’ system acts in a regenerative way, allowing us to give back more than we take from the land.
WAY FOUR - Packaging
Within the brewery we are constantly evolving our production and packaging processes, to make these as eco-friendly as possible. We use recycled biodegradable pallet wrap, recycled cardboard boxes, and are currently moving to paper tape for our packaging.
WAY FIVE - Carbon Storage
There are various ways to draw CO2 out of the atmosphere, and one of the most straightforward is to let trees absorb carbon, and then make things out of the wood. When wood is made into furniture or into buildings. We build furniture for our bars from our own trees which have died or been blown down. This locks up carbon for decades whilst providing our customers with comfy places to sit and enjoy our delicious beer. We make sure that the habitat on our organic farm is constantly regenerating, planting thousands of native broadleaf trees over the past few years.
WAY SIX - Cans v Bottles
Over the last few years we have also moved our core range of beers to can from bottle. Recycling aluminium uses only around 5% of the energy needed to produce the material from its raw products and during the recycling process, aluminium does not lose any of its properties and so it can be recycled infinitely whilst maintaining its integrity.
WAY SEVEN - Our Hostel
At our hostel in Inverness we ensure that our accommodation is comfortable and affordable, while doing our best to reduce our energy usage and impact on the environment. The heating is only used in occupied rooms, the showers are push-button to reduce the amount of water being used and the corridor & bathroom lights are all on sensors. We also only use organic cleaning supplies, and @whogivesacraptp 100% bamboo & recycled toilet paper.
WAY EIGHT - Saving Our Bees
Worryingly, bee populations are sharply in decline. No bees, means no pollination, and no fruit, grains or vegetables. At Black Isle we’re determined to do what we can to help them thrive, so we ensure our gardens are full of plants rich in pollen and nectar, making them bee friendly.
WAY NINE - Our Bars
At our bars we avoid single use plastics wherever possible, or find compostable alternatives (takeaway containers/cutlery/straws). All our furniture is upcycled or reclaimed wood, largely from our own farm. We use eco-friendly cleaning products and @whogivesacraptp recycled toilet paper. We supply the bars with our own organic vegetables, and to complete the circle, the foodwaste from our Inverness bar is sent back to the brewery farm to be used as compost.
WAY TEN - Sharing Knowledge
We believe we have a responsibility to share our knowledge. For the last 20 years we have welcomed volunteers from around the world to work on the farm and in the garden where they experience what it means to work not only in nature, but with it. More recently, we have been working with local schools bringing children, who need additional support, out to the farm. This is a wonderful opportunity for them to spend time with animals, get their hands dirty, collect eggs, learn how to grow vegetables, forage and harvest what they’ve grown and make their own healthy lunch. We are also working with the UHI on a programme to evidence the mental health benefits of working outside in a richly bio diverse environment and will use the data collected to further our charitable initiative Flourish.
WAY ELEVEN - Supporting Nature
On our small farm alone we have planted over 7000 native broadleaf trees. By planting trees locally, we help improve the local air, help capture carbon dioxide, provide ecosystems for local wildlife and much more. We've also reinstated hedgerows, created wetlands, and dug ponds.
WAY TWELVE - Carbon Neutrality
Carbon neutrality means that the carbon footprint of a company, product, service or event has been calculated on the basis of internationally recognised standards and fully offset by supporting international climate action projects. Here at Black Isle Brewery we have worked with @climatepartner to support protection of the Amazon rainforest in Pará, Brazil, as well as the development of wind energy in Salodi, India. We are now proud to say, we are officially carbon neutral.
This is just the first step on the road to reaching Net Zero emissions – we’ll be announcing our target for achieving this soon! You can read more about the projects, and see how much CO2 we have offset, by visiting the link below.
We'd like the say a huge thank you to all our wonderful customers who participated by sharing the ways they are also working toward a greener future, and congratulations to our 12 winners!