After a year of working with a sustainability management expert from Lane County’s BRING, one of the nation’s oldest nonprofit recyclers, Falling Sky Brewing is now certified in BRING’s RE:think Business program. The certification acknowledges Falling Sky’s policies, operations and overall business philosophy of reducing waste and saving resources across its three locations.
“Falling Sky has always tried to be good stewards of the environment,” says co-founder Rob Cohen, “but it was great to get advice from the experts at BRING. We are incredibly proud to be certified and we know our customers appreciate our commitment to the environment.”
BRING’s RE:think Business program offers Lane County businesses and organizations free, confidential advice on practical ways to minimize waste and save money. Since March 2010, the program has worked with upwards of 100 businesses. More than 50 have received RE:think Certification for taking recommended actions to reduce waste in the workplace, including Agrarian Ales, Ninkasi Brewing Company and Tap & Growler.
By coordinating with BRING’s sustainability management expert, Falling Sky was able to assess opportunities and make on-the-ground changes throughout its operations, primarily in improving its recycling.
“RE:think helped us become more aware of ways we could lessen our environmental footprint and refine our waste management procedures, so we’re both saving money and taking better care of the environment,” says Cohen. “We actually only made a few adjustments to capture some waste that we didn’t realize we could recycle.”
In 1971, the first Earth Day inspired a group of volunteers to create the environmental group. In BRING’s first year, it collected 400 tons of glass and began programs to encourage a “reduce, reuse, recycle” mindset in the Eugene/Springfield area.
“BRING and the RE:think program is such an asset to building a better local, more responsible community,” says Cohen. “Many of the RE:think goals have already been our goals, so meeting requirements was not that much of a challenge, but mostly positive feedback that we had been focusing on the right areas.”
In order to receive RE:think Business certification, a business must demonstrate that it’s practicing “conservation and efficiency actions” across five categories: materials and waste management, energy efficiency and conservation, water conservation, water quality and purchasing.
BRING partners with Lane County Waste Management to offer the free RE:think Business program to businesses county-wide. Through onsite assessment and discussion, BRING advisors identify opportunities to conserve, improve efficiency, provide a healthy workspace for employees and can supply free or reduced-cost resources (such as posters or water-saving devices). Advisors are also available for problem-solving and can connect businesses with other resources to help them toward their sustainability goals, modify recycling processes or even identify grants and/or financial incentives.
“RE:think Business certification represents being a good environmental steward and helps support BRING and all the good that they do,” says Cohen.
Falling Sky is now looking at other areas where it can further improve both its business and sustainability practices. “We would love to eventually be able to better utilize alternative energies like solar power,” says Cohen. “We’re always looking for ways to waste less food and better reuse some of our materials, like grain bags.”
Once a business has received certification, it receives materials and support to continue improvements and gain publicity, such as: social media announcements, a listing in BRING’s directory and newsletter, a press kit so the business can share its success story, an award plaque, and ads in local publications. Certification also makes Falling Sky eligible for the Mayor’s Bold Steps Award, the City of Eugene’s premier sustainability honor for businesses.
“It’s amazing to think that not only is sustainability good for the environment,” says Cohen, “in most cases it also makes businesses run better and become more profitable.” •