Second life for waste beer

03 August 2020 | Business

BEE Energy Efficient recently took delivery of around 30 000 litres of waste beer from ABInbev Namibia’s Welwitschia Brewery in Okahandja, which will be used to make hand sanitiser.
According to Bruce Salt of BEE Energy Efficient, the company extracts the alcohol from the waste beer and uses it as a key ingredient for their Green Hand Sanitiser and other hygiene products. At the same time this helps the brewery safely dispose of thousands of litres of lager.
With the nationwide lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic during the first quarter of 2020, and the associated ban on alcohol sales during this time, the brewing industry was forced to pour hundreds of thousands of litres of expired or soon to be expiring beer down their drains.
However, Windhoek-based BEE Energy Efficient saw an opportunity and offered ABInbev Namibia a solution to their waste beer stock.
Besides beer, BEE also up-cycles Used Cooking Oil (UCO) and waste animal oils, raw material and production waste such as ink. They then use the resulting products to manufacture biofuels and hygiene products.
This is the first time beer is being disposed of in this environmentally-friendly manner.
The process involves BEE collecting the waste product in Okahandja where the beer is also denatured – made unfit for human consumption. It is then transported to the BEE plant in Windhoek where the company distils out the alcohol and disposes of the remaining liquid.
According to Salt, for each 10 000 litres of beer distilled, around 500 litres of ethanol is collected.
“It is a lot of work for a small amount of ethanol, but for us it’s all about building a relationship with ABInbev who would otherwise simply pour out the beer. Now we can take it, repurpose, and reuse it and make our BEE Green Hand Sanitiser from it. It also means we are less reliant on ethanol imports from South Africa.”
He added that waste beer would usually come in the form of cans or bottles, but due to these extraordinary times, the first consignment to BEE was tanked from the brewery’s large holding tanks directly into the waiting BEE tanker truck.
Connecting the pipe from the tank to the truck proved quite challenging at first but, just like the new relationship between BEE Energy Efficient and ABInbev Namibia – once the initial challenges were overcome, the beer could flow freely.

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