Ecover and AB InBev have joined forces: the manufacturer of environmentally friendly detergents is using residual alcohol (a waste product left over from the production of alcohol-free beer) as a raw material for a new detergent.
Rise in popularity of alcohol-free beer
Ecover's new detergent is called 'Too Good to Waste' and at least a quarter of it is made from water and ethanol, both of which are waste products from the beer brewing process of AB InBev's alcohol-free beers. Due to the increasing demand for such beers, AB InBev has more and more waste alcohol. "When non-alcoholic beers were not that popular, the residual alcohol was simply a waste stream that was broken down organically", Yleni De Neve, environmental manager for AB InBev Europe, explains. "Our partnership with Ecover is an important step towards a sustainable renewable economy."
For Ecover, this new detergent is just the beginning: "We’ve challenged ourselves to think about how we could use ingredients that already exist and are currently wasted – viewing waste as an opportunity, not just a problem, long term innovation manager Tom Domen says. Over the coming years, the company intends to develop even more products that will consist (in part) of residual waste. Ecover is also experimenting with using CO2 waste as a raw material for new products.
As for AB InBev, they want to make the production process more sustainable, while continuing to think about possible applications for 'waste products' such as grain residues and ethanol. In the past, the brewer has successfully converted ethanol into biogas for vehicles. "Our long-term vision is to effectively turn alcohol into a co-product, instead of a waste product", De Neve concludes.