Environmental information for craft breweries, distilleries, wineries, and cideries, and for home brewers who want to start commercial production. This sector has set itself apart by implementing sustainability into business practices from the start. Identify best practices and take your sustainability to the next level.
- Most producers will not need an air permit. However, you should evaluate your facility to make sure you do not need an air permit, and keep records of the evaluation and results. Fuel-burning equipment, grain handling and drying equipment, back-up generators, and the fermentation process itself can all contribute to the need for an air emissions permit.
- Contact the MPCA’s Business Assistance program for free, confidential help at 612-282-6143 or 800-657-3938.
- If your facility needs an air permit, you are likely to qualify for the simplest and cheapest air permit, known as a Registration permit.
- MPCA construction stormwater permit is required if construction will disturb more than 1 acre of land.
- You need a hazardous waste license if you produce any amount of hazardous waste.
- Common hazardous wastes include acidic and caustic cleaners (corrosive) that haven’t been neutralized during use and parts washer solvent (ignitable). Some hazardous wastes are so common they have been given simpler management requirements. These wastes include used oil, fluorescent light bulbs, lead acid batteries, pesticides, and compressed gas cylinders.
- Facilities in the Twin Cities metro area are licensed and inspected by their county. Facilities in greater Minnesota are licensed and inspected by the MPCA. The MPCA and metro counties work together to make sure hazardous waste requirements are the same throughout Minnesota.
- If you produce only small amounts of hazardous wastes, you probably qualify to bring the wastes to a VSQG collection center.
- MPCA industrial stormwater permit or No Exposure certification is required if your facility is described by one of the following SIC codes: 2082 (malt beverages), 2084 (wines and brandies), or 2085 (distilled and blended liquors). However, if the majority of your revenue comes from on-site sales in a restaurant, brewpub, or tap room, you do not need a stormwater permit or No Exposure certification.
- Don’t know your SIC code? Use OSHA’s SIC code search.
- Many producers qualify for the no cost, low-requirement industrial stormwater No Exposure certification. This is an option if you don’t have any materials or processes exposed to rain, snow, or runoff.
- Some cities charge a stormwater fee on your utility bill, and will give you a discount if you can control the amount or quality of stormwater leaving your site. Many watershed districts offer funding and technical assistance for projects that keep stormwater clean, such as raingardens, pervious pavement, or tree trenches. Bang Brewery in St Paul installed a raingarden.
- Breweries, brewpubs, and distilleries in the Twin Cities metro area must have a microbrewery wastewater permit from Metropolitan Council Environmental Services.
- In greater Minnesota, check with your local wastewater treatment plant to find out what their discharge requirements are.
- Private treatment systems (aka septic systems) used for non-residential purposes often require a permit from the MPCA, your county, or EPA, depending on the daily flow design. A permit is required if you will discharge wastewater to surface water.
- Small amounts of fermentation wastewater and other residuals can be spread on farmland as a replacement for commercial fertilizers if you follow the requirements in the MPCA fact sheet on land application. Larger amounts require a permit.
- If you have a restaurant, tap room, or tasting room, are located in the Twin Cities metro area, and contract for trash collection of four cubic yards or more per week, you are required to recycle at least three materials. A four-cubic-yard dumpster is approximately 6 feet wide, 4 feet deep, and 4 to 5 feet high.
- If you have air conditioning or refrigeration equipment that uses CFCs, HCFCs, or HFCs, the federal EPA requires you to use certified technicians who capture all refrigerants during repairs and follow EPA rules for maintenance and repair. There are additional steps to take if your equipment is large and leaky.
Community right-to-know reporting
- If you have two or more lead-acid battery powered forklifts, you may need to report them annually to the MN Department of Emergency Management due to the presence of sulfuric acid in lead-acid batteries. Contact the EPCRA program at 651-201-7416 for more information.
- Subscribe to the MPCA’s quarterly e-newsletter, the Small Business Enterprise, to stay updated on regulatory changes, common compliance issues, sustainability, funding, and training.
Environmental sustainability and conservation
Admin and operations
- Switch to paperless receipts to reduce paper waste and staff exposure to BPA and BPS. Dangerous Man recently applied for and received a grant from the MPCA to do just that.
- MPCA’s checklist for greening your business
- The Minnesota Materials Exchange can help you find or get rid of office equipment. If you’re in the Twin Cities metro area, the U of MN ReUse program is another great resource. They post new items on their Facebook page regularly.
Customers and tasting room
- Include nearby bus or train routes and Nice Ride bike rack locations on your website’s map/directions page and social media. This is especially important when you promote special events, which are likely to draw new customers.
- Provide ample and prominent bike parking.
- Consider installing an electric vehicle charger in your parking lot.
- Implement a composting program, and include the food trucks you host. Work toward making events zero-waste. Bent Brewstillery partnered with Anchor Fish and Chips to turn potato peels into product. Home Street Home food truck worked with Waste Wise to implement composting and recycling.
- Source used furniture, fixtures, and equipment whenever you can. Most restaurant supply stores have an extensive collection of used equipment. Be creative and repurpose materials, too – several taprooms in Minnesota have bars and tabletops built from old bowling alley lanes.
- Keywords for internet searches on reusing old properties: “adaptive reuse” and “land recycling”
- MN Brownfields has info on financial resources, common obstacles, and how to get started on land recycling. The Minnesota Brownfields Resource Guide collects information on loans and grants for cleaning up industrial properties. Canal Park Brewing managed contaminants and built their current 8,500 building on a brownfield site. Castle Danger Brewery built their current facility on a brownfield site in Two Harbors, MN, with the help of multiple partners and MN Brownfields.
- Incorporate green building practices and green building products, especially reused or reclaimed materials and fixtures.
- RETAP offers free energy, water, and waste assessments, with a focus on your building’s envelope – the doors, windows, insulation, and HVAC.
- Switch to more efficient, longer-life LED light bulbs. Canal Park Brewing in Duluth uses LEDs exclusively, both inside and out.
- Install motion sensors on lights in bathroom, offices, and low-traffic areas.
- Window awnings can reduce the summer heat gain of west-facing windows by 77%.
- Labels to look for: EnergyStar, WaterSense
- Thinking about using renewable energy? You can often sign up for wind-generated power through your electric utility (such as Xcel’s Windsource program). Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub in Minneapolis uses solar panels to offset 20% of their electricity needs. Insight Brewing in Minneapolis subscribed to a solar garden in Carver County that will offset 120% of the brewery’s electricity.
- MN Department of Employment and Economic Development has numerous resources to help new businesses, such as finding start-up capital, figuring out licensing, and general consulting for small businesses. They have small business development centers throughout the state and a Guide to Starting a Business in Minnesota.
- Projects that improve energy efficiency or use renewable energy sources may qualify for PACE funding.
- MPCA small business loans can be used to buy equipment that helps you meet or exceed environmental regulations, or to pay costs associated with the investigation and cleanup of contaminated sites. The seven year payback can help make your projects affordable.
- MPCA environmental assistance loans can be used for green chemistry, pollution prevention, source reduction, recycling, and source-separated composting projects. With a match, loan rates can be half market rate.
- Contact your electrical utility to see if they offer rebates for installing efficient lighting or other electricity-saving upgrades.
- MPCA grants and loans
- State of Minnesota grants
- Reduce water use. Start with benchmarking. How many gallons of water are you using to make a gallon of product? For breweries producing less than 10,000 barrels annually, the average is around 8 gallons used per gallon produced. The national Brewer’s Association provides free manuals on how to evaluate and reduce water, energy, and waste. Minimizing water use can be especially important in rural locations, where small wastewater treatment plants may not be able to accommodate your wastewater volume.
- Reduce energy use. Start with benchmarking. ENERGY STAR® Guide for Breweries provides ideas for improving energy efficiency and expected payback periods.
- MnTAP at the University of MN offers free assistance reducing energy, water, and waste in your production line. With the help of a MnTAP intern, one Duluth brewery identified small process and equipment changes that could save 130,000 gallons of water per year.
- Source used equipment when possible. Buy Minnesota-made when you need new. Most companies that manufacture food-grade or medical-grade tanks can fabricate tanks to your specs.
- Packaging: bottles vs cans
- Brew a bad batch? Check with your distillery friends and see if they can use it.
- Source local ingredients. Not everyone can grow their own grains like Du Nord Distillery and Far North Spirits do, but your neighborhood farmer’s market is a great place to make connections and find suppliers for specialty ingredients.
- More local successes in The Growler: “8 things every brewery should do to be more conservation-minded”