Connecting SMEs for a green economy

Skinners Brewery: environmentally sustainable beer brewing

Skinners Brewery's picture

Brewing award-winning ales and beers, while thinking about sustainability.

Skinners Brewery is a British brewery founded by Steve and Sarah Skinner in Truro, Cornwall, England, UK. Since 1997, the company has been producing cask ales and bottled beers. Many of these have won several awards, such as the their very own “Betty Stogs” Cornish session beer.


Skinners have not only invested in the taste of their beers, but also on their environmental sustainability, which is something that they say has to be pursued because it’s the right thing to do.

This has not only brought reduction in the impact of the business on the environment, but also some economic advantages, as shown by the constant decrease in utility bills.


One of the key components in the environmental sustainability of Skinners Brewery beers is the locally sourced barley. They buy the cereal used in the production of ales and beers from a farm which is only 9 miles (less than 15 km) away from the brewery.

The very convenient location of the supplying farmers allows them to collect the byproduct resulting from the beer-making process and use it to feed the animals of the farm. A lot of incoming material goes back to the surrounding environment as a new input.

Similarly, plastics used from the brewery - mainly HDPE, or type 2 plastics, high-density polyethylene - are directly recycled, as well as all paper internally used.

There are also other materials involved into the production process that are currently not recycled, but Skinner’s Brewery is under negotiation with local waste management experts to forward these general materials to a pallet producer, that is local, too.

From an energy perspective, remarkable investments have been made not only in terms of behavioural changes in the daily working practices of the brewery staff, but also in replacing end-life machineries with the most efficient alternative available in the market.

The current challenge is to become independent energy producers by the installation of solar powers. Despite the 20,000 m2 south-facing building, solar power have not been installed on the roof yet due to the presence of asbestos in the walls. They are, therefore, currently investigating if it is feasible to install solar panels despite the asbestos. If this is the case, there is potential for energy generation of about 60% of the energy demand by the brewery.

Meanwhile, utility monitoring is undertaken on a monthly basis per each product, so that the business decision-makers can evaluate further potential savings.


The SME is currently calculating the savings achieved. {will be updated as soon as data is available}



The identification of such measures derives from the know-how developed outside the brewery by Alun Morgan, technical director at the brewery. This expertise has been applied into the beer and ale production processes. Previous to his arrival, other measures were already in place, such as the steam boiler temperature controller.

Barriers/challenges and Lessons learnt

Firstly, it is the lack of technical expertise available in the field. Some of the measures so far described have been undertaken with a lack of knowledge because there are no providers of such technical expertise. This is the case also in terms of interpreting some of the data collected in the plant towards decision making.

Secondly, there seems to miss a reference point where to turn to receive support with the implementation of a specific measure. For example, providing guidance on how to find alternative financing methods, or how to monitor the implementation, especially for those measures involving the behavioural changes.

Finally, the financial barrier. The only alternatives perceived as possible have been either to invest their own money or take a loan from the bank, and the latter has not not always been easy to access, especially if the justification was the improvement of sustainability, so they would have been obliged to request the bank loan without specifying the “sustainable” aim.


Further details

How was the green solution financed?: 
Capital costs description: 
On average each measure required an investment of at least 10,000£ (about € 13,000) on each of the items. A piece of equipment towards the end of product life so preferred to replace it to get the savings as quickly as possible.
Would you characterize the green solution as: 
Medium capital intensive investment (i.e. €10,000-€30,000)
Operating and maintenance costs description: 
Yes, low O&M costs
Operating and maintenance costs: 
Yes, low O&M costs
Emission reductions description: 
In preparation, soon to be shared
Energy consumption description: 
In preparation, soon to be shared
Water consumption savings description: 
In preparation, soon to be shared
Material consumption savings description: 
In preparation, soon to be shared