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MillerCoors now landfill-free

Albany MillerCoors removes a trailer full of these 240-pound compacted aluminum cans each month as part of the brewery’s recycling efforts. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)

Albany MillerCoors removes a trailer full of these 240-pound compacted aluminum cans each month as part of the brewery’s recycling efforts. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)

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A MillerCoors employee dumps a load of broken glass into the plant’s new glass crusher, part of the company’s effort to become waste-free. (Staff photo: Brad McEwen)

ALBANY — MillerCoors executives and local officials gathered Tuesday to announce that the Albany brewery is now landfill free and is recycling over 99 percent of its waste.

The move will eliminate 40 tons of waste that was previously being sent to a landfill each month.

The Albany plant is now the sixth MillerCoors brewery nationwide to become waste-free as part of the company’s effort to become more environmentally friendly. According to executives, the company has been working diligently to become better stewards of the communities in which they operate while also remaining economically viable.

“MillerCoors has always been environmentally conscience,” said MillerCoors Albany Brewery Vice President Tim Dill. “We want to maintain the beauty of our city. This is a major milestone for Albany and MillerCoors in general.”

Dill continued by saying that MillerCoors has worked hard to maintain a strong presence in Albany-Dougherty County with regard to environmental stewardship. Dill said the plant encourages its employees to stay involved in various environmental activities, such as a recent day spent helping to clean up trash along a stretch of the Flint River.

“We’ve done this through people,” Dill continued. “It all boils down to the people. The ones who collect the cans, the ones who pick up the trash when they see it. Nothing in this brewery happens without our valuable employees.”

Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard praised the brewery and its employees for their dedication to the community in regard to environmental responsibility.

“I want to thank all the employees of MillerCoors,” said Hubbard. “Maintaining the health and natural beauty of our community is very important. Now that MillerCoors is landfill-free, they are doing even more to keep Albany/Dougherty County beautiful.”

In a letter, Gov. Nathan Deal echoed Hubbard’s statements, saying that the brewery’s achievement not only has a positive impact at the local level in Albany, but also an impact on the state as a whole.

“As the second largest brewery in America, I thank you for reusing or recycling more than 99 percent of brewery waste,” Deal said in the letter. “It is my goal to make Georgia the number one state in which to do business. On behalf of the state of Georgia, it is a pleasure to be a part of this celebration.”

By recycling nearly all of its waste, the brewery is not only able to reduce its environmental footprint, it is able to increase profitability by finding markets for the various waste products the plant produces. Environmental and Sustainability Engineer David Dixon estimates that after investing in nearly $100,000 of new recycling equipment, such as choppers, balers and compactors, the plant is still able to forecast $1.5 million in additional annual revenue through the sale of its waste byproducts.

Dixon said that the recycled glass and plastic are sold to various vendors and that even waste products like spent grain and yeast are sold. Dixon said the alcohol-free spent grain, which is full of sugars and proteins, is sold to area cattle farmers for feed supplements. He also said that a company in Thomasville purchases the brewery’s yeast as an additive in pet food.

“We’re fortunate to have byproducts people want,” added Dixon. “Selling these things offsets the things we have to pay for.”