Good practice

Brewery cuts beer waste on Scottish island

Brewery cuts beer waste on Scottish island
"© Alexey Repka , image 86214782, 2018, source:"
Food processing
High cost
Annual saving:
Payback time:
1 - 2 Year(s)
Recurring costs:
Resource savings: Waste:
5 680 litres of beer rescued from spillage a year, saving around € 11 200 a year
Associated cost savings: Waste:
Return on investment:
Manual cracking (barrel filling) process causing significant beer losses; new cask racker eliminates spillage and saves resources and costs
Co2 emission reduction:
21 tonnes a year
Premises and operation areas:
Production building
Size of company:
Small (less than 50), Medium (less than 250)
One off investment:

Swannay racks up savings on new equipment

  • Small brewery followed expert advice to save 5 680 litres of beer during casking
  • New equipment saves almost € 11 400 a year 

Swannay Brewery on the Orkneys off northeastern Scotland produces over 300 000 litres of beer each year. The brewery was already recycling a lot of its beer waste products – a local farmer took the draft (a mixture of spent malt and yeast), and the spent hops were bagged and used by locals for fertiliser. But the Swannay team thought it could do more, so it requested a food-waste audit from Resource Efficient Scotland’s free support service.

The company audit identified opportunities for reducing waste in the cask-filling process which could bring potential annual savings of  € 11 227 (£ 9 845) and reduce carbon emissions by 21 tonnes. The experts found that a significant proportion of beer was being lost filling the casks manually by hose. With no valve on the hose, Swannay was losing 5 680 litres of beer a year during transfers between barrels. The experts recommended that they install a cask racker, which would cut waste down to practically zero. The racker fills casks to a set volume and eliminates spillage.

The new installation cost the company € 21 100 (£ 18 500), but with savings of around € 11 400 (£ 10 000) annually, the investment paid for itself in two years. The measure also qualified for a grant from Zero Waste Scotland’s Waste Prevention Implementation Fund, which helps SMEs working in the food and drink, construction or commercial and industrial waste industries. 

Key results

  • 5 680 litres of beer rescued from spillage
  • Almost € 11 400 (£10 000) annual savings identified
  • Funding from Waste Prevention Implementation Fund helped to pay for investment
  • Spin-off benefit identified for local farmers

“As a successful SME, we already have a good grasp of our on-site operations, but we are always trying to be more efficient and lessen our waste outputs. The potential for positive business impact, cost savings and waste reductions associated with the auditing process is very positive. I would recommend that any company considering the support available make time for the audit process.” - Lewis Hill, the brewery’s manager.

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