Carlsberg’s Crowdsourcing Contest for Green Beer Solutions

Published Jan-03-16

Breakthrough:
Beer caps made from compost material, beer crates based on the structure of bones, and the use of micro-algae to produce biomass win a crowdsourcing competition to make beer more sustainable.

Company:
Carlsberg, Denmark

The Story:

Carlsberg’s Crowdsourcing Contest for Green Beer Solutions When Carlsberg was looking for new ideas to make its beer more sustainable it turned to the general public across the world. The Danish brewing company launched its “Cheers to Green Ideas” crowdsourcing competition in partnership with Copenhagen-based Think Tank, Sustainia.

Participants were challenged to come up with solutions to improve the environmental impact of beer, from the production of raw ingredients and brewing all the way to packaging and transportation.

Heeding the Call for Novel Ideas

In total, 162 ideas came in from 33 different countries during the three-week submission period. They were whittled down to winners of two awards by a Carlsberg jury. Members of the panel were drawn from a number of different departments within the brewing giant, including research and development, supply chain and marketing. They announced the winners at a ceremony in Paris in June 2015.

Award-Winning Ideas

The overall winners were Guillermo Luque Consuegra and Michael Malott for their idea to use micro-algae to produce biomass. In working on their solution, the innovative pair who studied at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, felt that a couple sources of waste in brewery were ripe for solutions. Namely, carbon dioxide from fermentation processes and waste water.

They worked on waste water, using it as a nutrient source for micro-algae. “You take a waste product, you introduce it to a microorganism and you produce something that's beneficial," said Malott. “And especially if it's fuel, you actually make this whole process a circle, because you can feed that fuel back into producing more beer."

For their prize-winning idea, the pair received $20,000 and the opportunity to work on it with Carlsberg experts.

The crowdsourcing competition’s other principal prize was the JC Jacobsen Special Award which went to Søren Højland Boesen, a student at the Technical University of Denmark. He won for his three green packaging ideas that drew their inspiration from nature. For example, a redesign of beer crates based on the structure bones, so that they would use less material and would therefore be lighter. This would mean that emissions from transportation would be lower.

One of the other ideas was to make beer caps out of compost material. "You could even incorporate seeds into the caps so that something would grow up," commented Søren. "It could even be barley, which could be the foundation for new beers."

For his novel solutions, Søren won $10,000 and the opportunity to work with Carlsberg experts.

Turning Ideas into Practical Solutions

Of the winning concepts, Charlotta Lyon, Vice President for Sustainability at the Carlsberg Group, said: "Interestingly, both winning ideas were inspired by nature through bone-inspired design and algae-based waste water treatment.

"I look forward to exploring the winning ideas with our Carlsberg experts and the winners. We might, for example, be able to produce biofuel for our trucks from algae. It’s definitely an idea that warrants further investigation."

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