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Beechwood chips now recycled by A-B.

Beechwood chips are the latest material to be recycled at Anheuser-Busch, Inc.'s Fort Collins, CO, brewery in a program to turn 900,000 pounds of the chips into compost every year.

Anheuser-Busch uses the chips to age all of its beer brands while in secondary fermentation. In the past, used chips had always been trucked to area landfills.

The Fort Collins brewery's resident industrial engineer, Robert Pelos, began looking into the prospect of using the chips for composting after learning that A-B's Newark, NJ, brewery was using its chips as mulch. Additionally, the Anheuser-Busch's Environmental Quality Task Force recently pinpointed beechwood chip disposal as a priority to reduce the plant's waste production and hauling costs.

Pelos said the Fort Collins brewery now sends 15 to 20 thirty-yard dumpsters of chips each month to the city's Resource Recovery Farm, which are then composted and combined with the city's sewer sludge.

"It's a natural step - literally getting the most use out of every chip," Pelos explained. "But like every program, it's only as good as the employees who are behind it, and here at Fort Collins everyone is very environmentally conscious."

During the fermentation process, a layer of chips, about 4,440 pounds, is spread inside an aging tank. Next, approximately 2,400 barrels of beer in secondary stage of fermentation is pumped into the tank, and the chips provide surface area for the action of the yeast contained in the beer. The yeast then settles on the chips and continues working until the beer is completely fermented.

"We use over 900,000 pounds of chips every year and I thought there was a better way of handling them than sending them to a landfill," Pelos noted.

When ready for composting, the chips are air-dried, then run through a tub grinder. The chips, originally about 12- to 16-inches long, are reduced to three- and four-inch slivers.

"We mix the beechwood chips with our sludge, compost it for six to eight weeks and till it into the 220 acres of farmland on the Resource Recovery site," reported Chuck Ingram, manager of the Fort Collins' Resource Recovery Farm.

PHOTO : BEECHWOOD CHIPS (at left) are used in Anheuser-Busch breweries for aging its beer. Used chips are now composted and ground into landscape mulch (at right) in a program the brewer has started with the city of Fort Collins, CO.
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Title Annotation:Anheuser-Busch Inc.
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Feb 3, 1992
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