In the world of craft beer, New Belgium Brewery, is known for its green-conscious corporate culture.
As a leader in environmental responsibility and as the third largest craft brewer in the country, New Belgium is used to getting attention. Being a leader isn’t always rosy though; it comes with criticisms and learning experiences. In the case of New Belgium, it recently had an ex-employee initiate banter and skepticism about the company’s marketing. New Belgium used to tout on its packaging that it was “100 percent wind-powered.” This message is not exactly accurate. The message overstates the impressive carbon reduction measures that New Belgium has in place and has been working on as early as 1999.
To set the record straight, New Belgium uses energy in addition to electricity. It burns natural gas and uses fuel for its distribution trucks and the outside production of its bottles. Therefore, the messaging of ‘100 percent wind powered’ can be misleading. And in this case, is also overshadowing the company’s green culture and investments – over $1 million in energy-efficient equipment alone.
The lesson learned though is a good one. Althought the discussion can go for a long time about the terminology used, New Belgium listened to the complaints and concerns and has taken steps to address the challenge of needing to be more transparent. In response, here are some examples of the steps its taking.
- Decided to embark on its first-ever sustainability report
- Partnered with Climate Conservancy to publish a life-cycle analysis of one six-pack of Fat Tire
- Agreed to change the marketing language to be more clear about its commitments
- Working on reducing the carbon footprint of a Fat Tire six-pack by 25% by 2015
- Collaborated with the city of Fort Collins, Colorado State University and others to apply for a grant from the Dept of Energy to fund a project aimed at reducing peak-load electricity demand
There are a number of paths that New Belgium Brewery could have taken. The marketing messaging it was using needed to evolve and instead of lowering their heads, the company decided to gather more information, develop new partnerships and get back on track. This company realized it had a lot to learn and hopefully other environmentally-conscious companies and consumers have learned something as well. ~ Megan
Megan Brown is the Client Relations Manager for Renewable Choice Energy.