New Belgium Brewing Gets Called Out for Greenwashing, Then Gets Green

February 4 2009, 8:39 AM
Businesses everywhere seem to be remaking their images to highlight concern for the environment, and that includes the beer business. Coors, for example, is all about the 50th anniversary of the recyclable aluminum can, as The New York Times' Green Inc. blog notes. But sometimes there's a rub between image and reality, as the recent history of Fort Collins' New Belgium Brewing Company shows. The brewery has been aggressive in reducing its carbon footprint and bragging about it. But a self-styled whistleblower/ex-employee alleged NBB's claims to be "100 percent wind-powered" were false. Indeed, as a columnist in The Denver Post wrote in 2007, New Belgium burns natural gas, and trucks distribute the beer. The glass bottles take more energy to make than the beer itself. Though the company initially disputed the former employee's claims, it later took the high road, agreeing to modify its marketing slogans and become more transparent about its environmental progress. And last spring, the Energy Department even granted the brewery some money to help fund and study greener beer.