CHICO, Calif. - Known for its iconic green labeled Pale Ale and Torpedo IPA, Chico's Sierra Nevada brewery is now gaining notoriety for its green business practices.
On Friday, coincidentally America Recycle Day, the brewery became the first company in the United States to earn platinum certification from the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council.
"As a manufacturer, a brewer, that uses resources, we've always tried to minimize our impact and do as good of a job as we could with using our resources wisely and not wasting things and not sending a lot of material to the landfill," says Sierra Nevada Brewery owner Ken Grossman. "So it's been something we've worked on for years."
That work has resulted in 99.8 percent waste diversion from the landfill, which basically means every resource on site is re-used or re-purposed in one way or another.
Cherie Chastain, sustainability coordinator for Sierra Nevada Brewery, says the certification is rewarding.
"33 years today Ken's been working on this, I've been working on it for seven years, and to finally achieve third party recognition and have your efforts validated means a lot for us and I think everybody that works here," says Chastain.
From on-site composting that goes to the garden behind the brewery and back into the kitchen, to biodiesel production on site, Sierra Nevada works hard to produce as little waste as possible.
Gary Liss, president of the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council, says the recognition is more than just a pat on the back, it makes Sierra Nevada a beacon for other businesses looking to reduce their waste output.
"When you hear the details of what the companies are doing it makes you stop and think, 'Oh, if they're doing it, I can do it,'" Liss says.
But just like any practiced perfectionist, Sierra Nevada won't be satisfied until they can keep 100 percent of their waste from ending up in landfills.
"You know, we've pushed so hard and picked up all the low-hanging fruit and now we're really pulling out the ladder and reaching tall," says Chastain. "So we're looking at some mixed material string, some really difficult things to recycle and trying to get a little more creative than we have been."
Owner Ken Grossman echoes that idea.
"We've done a tremendous amount of stuff but there's more things we can do and there's more opportunities to reduce our impacts even further," says Grossman.