Hundreds of thousands of unused kegs of Guinness have been repurposed to fertilise Christmas trees during the coronavirus lockdown.
The forestry project is one of several environmentally friendly disposal routes the famous Irish brewery employed as it brought back millions of litres of stout, beer and ale from closed pubs and bars.
At the start of the lockdown in Ireland, Guinness reduced operations at its St James’s Gate brewery in Dublin to the minimal level required to keep its yeast stocks alive. It was the first time that had happened since the 1916 Easter Rising rebellion in the city.
Aidan Crowe, the director of operations at the brewery, said Guinness decided in the early days of lockdown to support its on-trade customers by retrieving the kegs that were set to go undrunk due to the closure of hospitality outlets.
Speaking to PA, Aidan Crowe said: “It’s been a tough time in the brewery but it’s been a much tougher time if you’re trying to run on-trade outlets in this part of the world.
“That’s why it was very, very important right from the start of the lockdown to support the on-trade as much as we could. That’s why we took the decision to bring back all of the beer from the on-trade.”
“Basically what we do is we take all the keg beer back and we decant it and we disperse the product through a number of environmentally sustainable routes.
“The vast majority of the beer goes to willow and Christmas tree plantations, it’s used as nutrients in those farms.”
Some of the Guinness retrieved was also diverted for composting and through anaerobic digesters, where it produces a bio-gas. The brewery are “optimistic” that bio-gas can be a suitable fuel source to use at its Dublin headquarters.
Aidan Crowe added: “We wanted to ensure that in terms of how we manage that and manage the beer it was environmentally sustainable, because that’s so critically important, not just for our business, but obviously for the country as a whole as well.”
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living.