Going Green: Colorado Governor Brings Beer, Cannabis Sectors Together to Reduce Carbon Footprint
Colorado Governor Jared Polis is bringing The Centennial State’s cannabis and brewing industries together to help companies in both sectors reduce their carbon footprint.
On Wednesday, Gov. Polis unveiled two pilot programs, developed in partnership with the Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Colorado Energy Office, that are aimed at helping cannabis cultivators amd craft breweries operate more sustainably.
“We are committed to taking the necessary steps to improve our air quality and reduce harmful emissions,” Polis said via a press release.
One of the initiatives, called the “Carbon Dioxide Reuse Pilot Project,” will bring Denver Beer Co. and The Clinic marijuana dispensaries together as part of an innovative CO2 recapturing and exchange program.
Here’s how it works:
CO2 is a natural byproduct of the brewing and fermentation processes. However, most craft breweries lack the ability to recapture C02 for use in carbonating and packaging their beers and instead must purchase it from third-party suppliers.
At the same time, marijuana cultivators must also purchase large amounts of CO2 to help stimulate plant growth, expand yields and accelerate production timelines.
What if there was a way cannabis companies could utilize all of the CO2 from breweries that ordinarily goes unused?
Enter Earthly Labs, an Austin, Texas-based technology solutions company that developed energy-efficient equipment that can capture and purify CO2 from small-scale sources.
Together, the three companies will test a close-looped system whereby Denver Beer Co. will recapture, sell and deliver its CO2 byproduct to The Clinic using Earthly Labs “CiCi” equipment.
“We believe that if we operate this technology efficiently for the whole year, we can capture up to 150,000 pounds of CO2 a year,” Denver Beer Co. co-founder Charlie Berger told THCnet.
That amount would satisfy The Clinic’s needs, Berger said, adding that the cannabis firm would continue to buy CO2 from other providers during the test phase.
“We hope to prove this model,” he said, expressing hope that other Colorado craft breweries would consider investing in CO2 recapturing devices.
“And hopefully cannabis growers understand why they should pay a little bit more for CO2,” he continued. “It’s the right thing to do and I think customers care. I believe they will show that by purchasing sustainable beer and cannabis.”
Berger told THCnet that the investment into the Earthly Labs equipment was approximately $100,000 and that Denver Beer Co. -- which will also transport the CO2 about 8 miles to the cannabis company -- would be ROI positive within a few years.
A second pilot program launched by the state will bring “local electric cooperatives and municipal utilities” together to “provide eligible cannabis cultivation businesses with no-cost technical energy use assessments.”
"Our partner utilities will work directly with cannabis cultivators within their service territories to look at high energy use areas and opportunities for operational changes that reduce energy use without major impacts to production metrics," Colorado Energy Office executive director Will Toor said via the release.
The two programs are aimed at supporting Gov. Polis’ goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.
“These pilot programs combine a few of the things that Colorado is known for: environmental responsibility, craft beer, and cannabis,” Polis said via the release. “I applaud our state agencies and private partners for working together on these innovative programs to help protect the Colorado way of life.”
A press release with additional details is included below.
Gov. Polis Announces Green, Innovative Pilot Programs to Increase Efficiency in Cannabis and Beer Industries
DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis today joined the Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Colorado Energy Office to announce two pilot programs focused on energy usage and environmental responsibility in the cannabis and beer industries.
“We are committed to taking the necessary steps to improve our air quality and reduce harmful emissions,” said Governor Jared Polis. “These pilot programs combine a few of the things that Colorado is known for: environmental responsibility, craft beer, and cannabis. I applaud our state agencies and private partners for working together on these innovative programs to help protect the Colorado way of life.”
The Governor was also joined by Amy George - CEO and founder of Earthly Labs, Charlie Berger - Co-founder of Denver Beer Co., and Max Cohen - CEO and founder of The Clinic.
“As a state, we’ve committed ourselves to ambitious, wide-ranging strategies to reduce harmful greenhouse gases. This pilot program is a perfect example of the state’s willingness to embrace creative solutions and call on businesses to innovate to help build a healthier, cleaner, more sustainable Colorado.” said Jill Hunsaker Ryan, executive director, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
“The Clinic consistently strives to incorporate sustainable practices into our operations,” said Brian Cusworth, director of operations for The Clinic. “We know that the nation is watching Colorado to see how cultivators of legal marijuana handle our responsibilities to our customers, our community and our planet. With our participation in this project, we’ll demonstrate how an ethical, civic-minded cannabis industry can make a difference while still engaging in smart business practices.”
CDPHE’s Carbon Dioxide Reuse Pilot Project is the first of its kind to establish the commercial exchange of recovered carbon dioxide. The program will capture carbon dioxide produced during the beer brewing process and use that carbon to cultivate cannabis and stimulate plant growth. Denver Beer Co., The Clinic, and Earthly Labs are partnering together and with the state to pioneer this new technology. Denver Beer Co., can capture more than 100,000 lbs of carbon each year using this technology.
This pilot program provides a roadmap for the beer and cannabis industries for how to reduce their carbon footprint and increase the efficiency of their operations.
“Denver Beer Co. is proud to work with The Clinic and Earthly Labs in pioneering this new exchange market. This innovative technology will greatly reduce our carbon emissions and carbon footprint,” said Charlie Berger, co-founder of Denver Beer Co. “At Denver Beer Co., we believe in the importance of environmental stewardship. We have one planet and we believe it is our corporate and social responsibility to help conserve and protect our resources.”
“Earthly Labs’ vision is to capture and avoid 1 billion metric tons of CO2,” said CEO Amy George. “The State of Colorado is leading the charge in the country to promote small scale carbon capture investment to meet their 2030 goals. We are thrilled to help these industry pioneers reduce costs, drive innovation, and improve the quality of life in Colorado.”
The Colorado Energy Office’s newly launched Colorado Cultivators Energy Management pilot program is a partnership with local electric cooperatives and municipal utilities to provide eligible cannabis cultivation businesses with no-cost technical energy use assessments to better understand energy use drivers and cost-effective energy management opportunities. The pilot will work with five utilities and 15 licensed cannabis cultivation businesses. The program also offers no-cost resources to rural electric cooperatives interested in developing longer term plans to support cannabis industry utility customers.
"Our partner utilities will work directly with cannabis cultivators within their service territories to look at high energy use areas and opportunities for operational changes that reduce energy use without major impacts to production metrics," said Colorado Energy Office executive director Will Toor.
The Colorado Cultivators Energy Management pilot program builds off of CEO’s Energy Use in the Colorado Cannabis Industry report published in 2018. This report covers the history of marijuana legalization in Colorado, assesses baseline energy and water use for production, examines municipal policy development and its impacts on industry growth, and reviews opportunities for cultivators to improve efficiencies and reduce costs.
To learn more about the Carbon Dioxide Reuse Pilot Project, click here. To learn more about the Colorado Cultivators Energy Management pilot program, click here. To watch today’s press conference click here.
About Earthly Labs
Earthly Labs mission is to avoid 1 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. The company’s carbon capture technology allows for energy-efficient CO2 capture, purification and reuse of carbon dioxide from small-scale sources. Earthly Labs' innovative carbon capture hardware (CiCi) allows brewers to reduce CO2 emissions, reduce CO2 costs, enhance beer quality, and participate in carbon markets. Earthly Labs is a Public Benefit Corporation committed to using business as a force for good. To find out more, visit earthlylabs.com.
About Denver Beer Co.
Independently owned and operated, Denver Beer Co. is founded on the core belief that beer is serious fun. Using locally sourced grain and the finest ingredients available, traditional methods and innovative spirit, our team creates craft beer that is approachable, fun, damn delicious and consistently wins awards to prove it. We believe in environmental stewardship and our corporate responsibility to operate sustainably which is why we produce our beer using 100% clean solar power. We believe in creating and supporting an accepting community where good beer can be enjoyed with friends and neighbors, loved ones and strangers. For more information, visit denverbeerco.com.
About The Clinic
The Clinic is Colorado’s premier cannabis dispensary founded in 2009, offering four retail locations in and around the Denver area. The Clinic offers customers a boutique dispensary experience with knowledgeable budtenders, high-quality products, and top-notch customer service. With a selection of 700 products and counting, people can count on the latest products and largest selection available. The Clinic offers a wide breadth of concentrates and extracts created by The Lab, processor and product manufacturer of cannabis products and concentrates for both The Clinic and dispensaries across Colorado. The Clinic also offers new strains and cutting-edge genetic creations grown by The Bank, the cultivator of cannabis exclusively for The Clinic. To learn more about The Clinic, visit http://www.thecliniccolorado.com/.