The Positive Environmental Impact of Upcycling Spent Grain Flour

The Positive Environmental Impact of Upcycling Spent Grain Flour

The Positive Environmental Impact of Upcycling Spent Grain Flour

Hearing the term “environmental impact” probably causes everyone to begin to conjure some of the negative stories we have heard about the harsh environmental impact of certain industries, including agriculture. While there is no shortage of industries that negatively impact The Earth, some practices and production methods can actually have a positive impact rather than negatively impacting the environment. As sustainability and conservation become more important than ever to consumers today, many businesses are realizing that becoming eco friendly should be one of their primary strategies.  And we are witnessing this change take place with manufacturers and retailers alike who want to positively impact the environment. Spent grain, for example, is so eco friendly that instead of just being carbon neutral, it actually removes carbon from the atmosphere! So we suppose you could say that spent grain is a great and positive resource for manufacturers, retailers, consumers and ultimately the planet!

Throughout this post, we will focus on the positive environmental impact of spent grain, why that impact is so important, and how that sets spent grain flour apart from other wheat flour alternatives. For those who are more visually inclined, we have also incorporated these statistics into an easy-to-read diagram.

The Importance of Upcycling

There is a lot of marketing verbiage being used by companies these days that attempt to incur favor with consumers by making themselves seem environmentally conscious, or that use clever branding to greenwash their products. Some might have even heard the term “upcycled” and think that it’s just another term in a long line of catchy environmental buzzwords that doesn’t really mean what you think it means (anyone else think of Enigo Montoya from The Princess Bride when we said that??)

The truth is, upcycling is a core tenet of our mission statement and it’s literally what inspired us to create Grain4Grain in the first place. We are headquartered in San Antonio, TX which has a flourishing beer industry. In fact, Texas ranks as one of the top ten beer producing states in the country. When we learned how much food waste is produced during the beer making process, in the form of spent grain left over after the barley is malted, we were floored and wanted to explore how we could do something about it. 

We are proud to say that we care deeply about food waste and its environmental impact, which is the inspiration behind the creation of Grain4Grain. Although it’s not widely publicized, food waste accounts for a huge amount of carbon emissions. In fact, if food waste were a country, it would be classified as the number 3 emitter of carbon. Let’s pause and think about that for a minute.  When we examined the amount of food waste incurred during beer production, we knew there had to be an efficient way to upcycle that into a usable product and reduce what would otherwise become waste. While we aren’t the first company to mill spent grain into flour, we have a patent-pending process that actually reduces the dehydration process from what typically takes 6-7 hours to complete down to a mere 15 minutes.  This means that this upcycled spent grain can be milled into a flour much more quickly and efficiently, and on a much larger scale. Since we started Grain4Grain in 2018, we have upcycled over 925,000 pounds of barley from breweries using this process. Talk about a positive environmental impact and one that just so happens to be delicious!

What Does Upcycling Mean for Emissions?

The process of upcycling what would otherwise be wasted grain into a usable spent grain flour has a multi-faceted positive impact on the environment. First of all, we’re reducing waste by turning spent grain into flour rather than allowing it to make its way to a landfill. This allows us to conserve Earth’s precious resources because spent grain is made from the byproduct of another production process.  This means we don’t need to use any raw materials to make our flour. Plus, we’re reducing carbon emissions to boot.

So we are sure everyone is wondering how exactly does spent grain flour reduce carbon emissions? Well, for every one tonne of spent grain that winds up in a landfill, over 1000 pounds equivalent of carbon emissions are released. By removing the need for this spent grain to wind up in a landfill, approximately 1 tonne (or 2000 pounds) of carbon is removed for every 1500 pounds of spent grain flour produced. 

When we consider that about 1 pound of spent grain is left over for every single 6 pack of beer that is produced, upcycling this byproduct into spent grain flour removes a lot of carbon emissions from the atmosphere on a daily basis. In fact, Grain4Grain has removed 142 tonnes of carbon to date and business is only expanding.

Spent Grain Flour Beats the Competition When it Comes to Sustainability

For those who have been following along with our blog, this won’t be the first post where we compare ourselves to the “other guys”. When spent grain flour is compared to the other wheat flour alternatives, spent grain flour really takes the cake (if you know what we mean).  This is especially true when spent grain flour is compared to its peers in terms of their impact on carbon emissions. While every 2.5 pounds of almond flour produces 1 pound of carbon emissions, every .6 pound of spent grain flour produced removes 1 pound of carbon emissions.

Add this positive environmental impact to the other stats of spent grain flour - less carbs than the competition, more protein, more fiber, and less fat, and it’s pretty obvious that spent grain flour comes out on top every way you look at it. 

For those who have made it a point to be a conscious consumer have likely put a lot of thought into the products that they purchase and the businesses they support. It can sometimes be really difficult to understand the true environmental impact of the food we eat. That’s why we offer a lot of transparency about the positive impact that spent grain flour has on the environment, and also try to educate our customers about the reasons that they should choose this upcycled wheat flour alternative rather than some of the more widely known alternative flours such as coconut and almond flour. We don’t mean to bash the competition, but when we see harsh environmental practices that should be changed, we think it’s important to highlight them. Not to mention, many people choose alternative flour for health reasons and because they believe that wheat alternative flours are the healthier choice.  It is our goal to empower consumers with the facts so that they can determine which alternative flour offers them the truly healthiest choice. so that they can make the best choice for their health and for the environment. Choosing Grain4Grain is a trend that consumers are beginning to notice not only for its nutritional components but also because it has such a positive environmental impact. 

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