Leftover bread turns into Craft Beer

The Idea

A number of breweries in northern England are making a craft beer, Toast Ale, by substituting part of the malt it would otherwise have used with leftover bread. The beer was conceptualized to make use of discarded bread in an effort to fight food waste: in Britain, 44% of the bread produced ends up in the garbage.

The beer is the brainchild of Tristram Stuart, founder of anti-food waste organization Feedback. For Toast Ale, Stuart works with brewery partners throughout the UK. “We work with established breweries to create our unique beer. There are now a lot of breweries across the UK – about 1,700 at the last count – but they’re not all running at full capacity,” according to a post on the Toast Ale website. “When they’re not brewing their own beer, either the equipment sits unused while the brewers keep a watchful eye on the fermenting tanks, or they brew for others. We’re all about minimizing our footprint and using space, time and expertise that would otherwise be wasted, so we’re taking full advantage of the slack in the system.”


The newest brewing partner has used nearly 22,000 Pounds of leftover bread to produce more than 300,000 beers, according to the Inquirer. Profits are donated to Feedback; any grains left after brewing are fed to livestock.

Craft brewers, all over the world, have sought to reduce their environmental footprint by engaging in a variety of sustainability initiatives.

Key initiatives, that can apply to the food industry:

  • Look to reduce waste or turn a waste stream into a revenue stream or donation through partnerships
  • Look for sustainable, local ingredients, as input into your processes
  • Understand water usage and how to re-use, reduce, recycle water
  • Put community at the heart of your plans

A handful of breweries in Denver have begun making beer using recycled water, while a Brewery in Oregon is building an onsite water treatment facility to treat its wastewater. The famous Carlsberg Group has set a goal of reducing water usage at its breweries by 50% by 2030 by leveraging “technological breakthroughs at brewery level” as well as collaborations with partners in high-risk catchment areas to ensure long-term water availability.

What can you do in your organisation to improve your impact?


Mark van Engelen is founder Nya Sustainability Consulting, a consulting firm helping organizations implement sustainability. Services include sustainability strategy development, zero waste planning, GHG emissions calculating and planning, energy/water management, employee engagement and guidance in B Corp and carbon neutral certification.


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