No Waste Brewing

Commentary in response to…

Brewing a future: Zero Emissions in Namibia

A southern African brewery spawns a chicken farm, a fish farm, a mushroom plantation, a Spirulina plantation, an earthworm farm, jobs, and hope

by Keto Mshigeni & Gunter Pauli

“In natural systems, there is no such thing as waste. Everything that’s excreted, exhaled, or exhausted from one organism is used by another. Some of the most innovative industrial designers are following nature’s model and turning waste into valuable by-products.”

All over the world, physical products are being created. Resources are being altered, shifted into another form, and sold. Processes are chosen for the creation of these valuable products. Cycling the biproducts of production back into a useful form or role is rarely integrated into planning as a priority. Gradually, examples all over the globe are showing that production can be undertaken without creation of harmful or useless waste. There is almost always a better way, and a viable option, for recycling waste – literally.

Recycling isn’t just for plastic bottles or aluminum cans. There are many natural substances that are created during the brewing process, for example, can create opportunity rather than inconvenience after the actual  product – beer – has been made.

In Namibia, Namibia Breweries has accomplished the creation of a fantastically productive ecosystem, entirely inspired by the particular waste elements yielded by the brewing process. Rather than seeing these biproducts as waste, George Chan, a civil engineer from Mauritius, saw them as chances to support processes that would produce food for the Namibian people.

Now, due to a powerful change in perspective, rather than having a great mass of materials that create a problem, Namibia now has a course of valuable raw materials that are perfectly tailored to provide protein rich and valuable foods. A great deal of time and energy can be invested in waste removal. May all people, businesses, an countries take Namibia Breweries as an example: question what it means to be waste. What is really waste? Is it truly useless, or is it a valuable resource that might simply be overlooked because of circumstance and perspective?

Spirulina, mushrooms, chicken, and fish are much more valuable than alkaline water and spent grain. Is the creative channeling of resources the alchemy of our day? Perhaps so. All it takes is a little dreaming, creativity, and the will to believe that we might be able to turn a mundane item into gold.

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