Environment + Sustainability
Giving back to our communities is at the root of everything we do. As we continue to brew more beer for more people, we are continuously looking for opportunities to do good in our communities, whether that means partnering with positive community organizations or adopting more sustainable practices.
Energy Conservation & Production
At Ninkasi, we are aware that it takes energy to make beer, but we are also aware that there are many improvements we can make to conserve, produce and reuse energy throughout the process.
- Installed in November 2011, our original brewery and tasting room, function with partial energy supplied from the 44.7 kilowatt solar array installed on the roof of the facility. The solar array consists of 160 panels. During peak power generation, the solar panels make up for 8% of all power used in the production area.
- Since 2011 we have purchased carbon offset credits as a member of NW Natural’s Smart Energy Circle. These credits offset 100% of carbon from natural gas emissions at our 272 Van Buren brewery. These credits are used to help farmers build biodigesters—turning cow waste into on-demand, renewable energy. So far, we’ve purchased more than $85,000 in carbon offset credits through this program.
- Through our continuous improvement (CI) program Ninkasi employees are constantly identifying ways to reduce waste in our operations; whether it be through taking inefficient equipment offline, reducing packaging and materials waste, improving recycling opportunities, or shutting off lights when we no one is in a room.
Conserving is always top of mind when purchasing new or updated systems throughout all of our facilities. In the brewery, we focus on small steps that make big changes over time. This includes reclaiming cooling water from the brewing process for use in subsequent batches, rinsing our tanks with bursts or short-pulses as opposed to using continuous water flow, and eliminating open hoses allowing us to chart and measure what water we use. Our keg line also uses a reservoir for cleaning chemicals that reduces both chemical and water usage in the kegging process
- Great beer must start with clean water. That's why in 2013, we joined the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) and its more than one million supporters to stand up for clean water and the Clean Water Act.
- Started in 2015, we are proud to be members of the Oregon Brewshed® Alliance. The Alliance is a coalition of brewers, craft brew community partners, and conservationists advocating for the protection of forests and watersheds. Together, members of the Alliance work to educate the beer drinking community about protected watersheds and their essential role in Oregon’s celebrated craft brewing industry.
- Locally, we partner and support organizations who work to keep our water sources clean and healthy. We have long-lasting relationships with McKenzie River Trust, Long Tom Watershed Council, EWEB, Umpqua Watersheds, Coast Fork Willamette Watershed Council, Willamette Riverkeeper, McKenzie Watershed Council, Surfrider Foundation, and SOLVE Oregon.
We take pride in what we put in our beers and the partners that help us deliver that beer to our customers. This starts with the very ingredients that go into making every Ninkasi brew. A driving factor in placing our brewery in Eugene, was its convenience to great local resources perfect for making a great beer.
- Our hops are sourced almost wholly from the Pacific Northwest—Yakima Valley in Washington and our own Willamette Valley in Oregon.
- Our bottles are made from as much as 60% post-consumer glass, all originating in Portland, Oregon.
- Our labels are printed at a facility less than three miles away from the brewery.
- The cardboard used in our carriers and cartons contains 100% recycled content or tree fiber from responsibly managed forests.
We are constantly in search of new ways to recycle or reuse our products throughout our brewing and tasting room operations as well as within our administrative office
- Since 2009, we have upcycled more than 82 million pounds of spent grain. In partnership with Oregon Natural Meats, 100% of the grain we used is upcycled to local farmers and used as feed for their cattle.
- A recycling program has also taken shape throughout our bottling and packaging lines. We have taken the extra effort to collect items not suitable for commercial commingle recycling in Oregon – items that otherwise would immediately go into the landfill. In a partnership with International Paper in Portland, Oregon, we are able to recycle all of our corrugated cardboard, plastic shrink wrap, brewers malt bags, and green plastic strapping used to band pallets. In 2012, we invested in a chipper to help break down the green plastic strapping for easier recycling by International Paper. Cardboard recycled from our brewery has the benefit of staying local. It is taken from the brewery to the International Paper Containerboard Plant in Springfield (less than five miles away) where it is made into new cardboard stock.
- Since 2016, we have participated in commercial composting of food scraps from our kitchens, breakrooms, and brewing processes (like citrus peels & hops) through Eugene’s Love Food Not Waste program. Through this program, food scraps are turned into valuable compost instead of taking up space, and creating methane in the landfill.
The Ninkasi campus includes two production facilities, a public tasting room, an administrative building, and a local distribution center. In 2014, we completed our forth and largest expansion which enabled us to focus on creating a more sustainable and highly-efficient campus.
- Our most recent expansion (which includes our 90-barrel brewhouse, administrative building and local distribution facility) boasts many sustainable features. All three buildings are registered to be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified under the new Campus Approach.
- Our original facilities, which have spanned from a 1,200 square-foot brew house, includes upgrades such as skylights to cut down on lighting use, automated light fixtures throughout, and the installment of hand-dryers in the restrooms in place of paper towels.
- Our location offers accessibility to many of our employees who live and work in the same neighborhood—riding bikes or even walking to work on a daily basis. This is why you’ll find bike storage, lockers and showers within our administrative building.
- We are proud to have an ongoing relationship with Energy Trust of Oregon to build efficiencies and energy savings throughout our operations. Since 2015, we have worked with the Trust to purchase high-efficiency, natural gas-fired steam boilers, and improve insulation, trimming an estimated $58,000 from our energy costs, and reducing our carbon footprint by 466.576 metric tons annually.
Community Partnerships & Support
Beyond our core purpose – Perpetuate Better Living – we also maintain a core value of successful integration of work and life. In light of this, we have created successful partnerships with organizations that are sustainably-minded or offer cultural sustainability in their communities. Historically beer has been the foundation of society and culture. At Ninkasi, we use it as the bind to bring these partnerships together, whether that's through our Beer is Love program, using our products to raise awareness and funds for these organizations, or encouraging non-profit relationships with our retailers.
- Officially established in 2012, our Beer Is Love program offers beer donations to registered 501(c)3 non-profit organizations throughout every community where our beer is sold and enjoyed. Beer is Love supports non-profits doing work in five core categories: women, equality, recreation, the environment, and arts and music. Since 2012, the program has worked with more than 800 organizations.
- We host Pints For A Cause® events weekly at our tasting room, offering local nonprofit organizations an opportunity to raise awareness and increase donations. During each event, $1 from every pint sold that day in our Tasting Room goes to the selected nonprofit.
- For over four years now, we have partnered with Phoenix Farm (formerly Berggren Farm) to provide our employees with locally-grown produce and farm-raised meat. One great benefit of working at Ninkasi is a monthly credit to spend on beer or merchandise. Each year, the brewery extends that benefit to cover 50% of a monthly CSA membership throughout harvest months.
- We have partnered with MBA and engineering students from the University of Oregon and Oregon State University to review the sustainability of our operations. These partnerships have provided valuable hands-on training for students performing the assessments, as well as valuable insight into the environmental impacts of our operations, and identify opportunities to save energy and increase productivity.