DENVER — The State of Colorado, Earthly Labs, Denver Beer Co., and The Clinic announced a new pilot program to establish the first commercial exchange of recovered carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. The pilot program captures and stores excess carbon dioxide produced during the beer fermentation process for later reuse by cannabis cultivators that require carbon dioxide to stimulate plant growth during cultivation. The exchange fills a need for both industries while reducing carbon dioxide emissions in Colorado.
“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.
Earthly Labs, a public benefit corporation dedicated to reducing carbon dioxide emissions from small scale emission sources, Denver Beer Co., a Colorado-based craft brewery, and The Clinic, a dispensary chain located in and around Denver, have partnered to implement the innovative carbon dioxide capture technology for the first time as part of the State of Colorado’s Pilot Program.
“This is a classic win-win-win scenario,” said Kaitlin Urso, environmental protection specialist for the small business assistance program at the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division. “We’re connecting companies that have excess carbon dioxide with companies that need it, and in the process we’re reusing CO2 that would otherwise be released directly into the environment.”
The pilot program aims to prove that even small businesses can economically capture their own carbon dioxide emissions and find a productive use for it, while paying off the cost of their initial investment in carbon capture technology at a much faster rate. Brewers can use some of their own captured carbon dioxide, then sell the excess.
The beer-brewing process — specifically, the fermentation stage — naturally produces carbon dioxide. While beer makers use carbon dioxide to carbonate beer and pressurize lines throughout their facilities, the current practice for most brewers, especially smaller-scale craft brewers, is to vent carbon dioxide from fermentation and purchase carbon dioxide from an outside source for carbonation. Using the technology, brewers can instead capture and store excess carbon dioxide for use by cannabis growers.
“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.”
The legal marijuana industry is a large market for carbon dioxide consumption, as carbon dioxide is used to grow product in a condensed time span and increase yields. Carbon dioxide is a key component in the cannabis plant growth process as the plant translates light into the energy needed for growth.
“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.”
The pilot program aims to demonstrate a cost-efficient way for breweries and marijuana businesses to slash their carbon dioxide emissions, as companies will no longer have to purchase carbon dioxide from power plants and have it shipped by truck across the state. Implementation of this technology will meaningfully reduce the transportation portion of their carbon footprint.
Beginning in January, carbon dioxide produced by the beer brewing process at Denver Beer Co. will be captured using Earthly Labs’ system and will then be transferred via holding tanks to The Clinic where it will be released to stimulate marijuana plant growth. The brewery can capture over 100,000 lbs/year with this technology.
“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.”
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