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Two of Colorado’s most popular party items are joining forces to reduce carbon emissions. Denver Beer Co. and the Clinic, a marijuana pharmacy chain with several growing operations, have partnered on a recycling program that aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from both the craft beer and cannabis industries.
The new pilot program, unveiled on January 29th by Governor Jared Polis and state ministries of energy, public health and the environment, allows brewers to capture the CO2 by-product of their brewing processes and then ship it to marijuana growers, who use the gas as a supplement to increase their crop yields.
Denver Beer Co. and the clinic are the guinea pigs of the program. If this is successful, the clinic will get cleaner CO2 than from its current provider, an east coast supplier that ships it nationwide, according to Max Cohen, the clinic’s CEO. The clinic’s entire CO2 needs were to be met by Denver Brewing Co., which intercepts the CO2 produced by yeast during beer fermentation.
The two companies are the only ones in their respective fields participating in the pilot, but Polis raised hopes that some of the other 900 licensed marijuana growing areas in Colorado will consider partnering with local brewers to do the same.
“We are talking about the success of two great industries and the success of our planet,” Polis said at the announcement on January 29th. “We live on many industries that depend on our climate here in Colorado,” he added, noting that outdoor tourism, ski resorts, and agriculture all depend on a healthy climate.
The governor says he wants the marijuana industry to be a “model of sustainability from an energy perspective” [and] Waste Use Perspective “, however, admits that the science of pot growing is still evolving and” exists with solutions from decades ago “.
The emission of CO2 during the brewing process has been accepted for centuries, not decades. As a by-product of using yeast as a key step in converting sugar to alcohol and carbonic acid, the CO2 from the Denver Beer Co.’s fermentation tanks is now reused.
“The fact is that fermentation creates CO2 as a by-product. We extract sugar from barley malt and pass it on to a brewer’s yeast. This yeast metabolizes the sugar and creates CO2 and alcohol. That’s why we need these things to make beer. That is also a fact. ” that CO2 is a greenhouse gas, “said Charlie Berger, co-founder of Denver Beer Co.” The CO2 that was a waste stream for us can now be captured and turned into a source of income while eliminating our emissions. “
Earthly Labs, a company that recycles CO2 emissions, will purify the CO2 before passing it on to the clinic’s producers, who use about 7,000 pounds per 7,000 square feet of cultivation every month. It should take most growers less than two years to see a payback once they pass the program, explains Amy George, founder of Earthly Labs, who believes the marijuana-brewery relationship is causing 1,500 trees a year to reduce emissions could be saved.
The legal marijuana industry doesn’t just thirst for CO2. According to a report from the Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, pot industries accounted for nearly 4 percent of the city’s electricity consumption in 2018 because it relies on powerful indoor lighting and air conditioning systems. During the announcement of the CO2 recycling program, Polis also announced the launch of the Colorado Cultivars Energy Management pilot program, an initiative that will conduct free energy usage audits of the energy efficiency of a marijuana farm
“Our partner providers will work directly with cannabis growers in their service areas to investigate high energy consumption areas and opportunities for operational changes that reduce energy consumption without significantly impacting production metrics,” said Will Toor, executive director of the Colorado Energy Office .
At 15 growing operations, lighting, ventilation systems, air conditioning, and other steps are assessed by the Colorado Energy Office, with opportunities for incentives and discounts when purchasing greener equipment.
Both programs are being reviewed for success and possible expansion, but the dates for such assessments have not been set, according to the governor.
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Thomas Mitchell has been writing about everything cannabis-related for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate, and general news en route to publications like the Republic of Arizona, Inman, and Fox Sports. He is currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.