The bad news just keeps coming. As of this writing, restaurants, offices, and schools remain shuttered—along with just about anyplace else where people are likely to open their mouths to eat and drink—leaving producers with tons of perishables that need to be disposed of. Farmers are tragically destroying vegetables and dumping milk.
So much beer—so little time
And now this: millions of gallons of beer nationwide are stuck in stadiums, concert halls, and restaurants—all past (or fast-approaching) their “best if used by” warnings, leaving owners and managers of these businesses with a hazardous-waste disposal problem of which they’re probably unaware—and for which they have zippo experience.
Wait! Did you say hazardous waste?
Most of us only think of beer as hazmat the morning after, when and where we swear to ourselves (or maybe our spouses) that we’ll never drink so much of the stuff again—at least not ‘til next time. But beer is brewed with yeast—and therein lies your hazmat disposal problem.
- Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). Materials disposed of into water bodies or systems will decompose. Decomposition requires oxygen. Different substances consume more or less oxygen than do others. The metric for this is called Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD). Too much high-BOD waste can create an oxygen shortage that kills aquatic life: from microorganisms to fishes.
- Total suspended solids (TSS). Remediation of excessive suspended solids (per Clean Water Act standards) requires treatment or removal—probably both—and is beaucoup expensive. (In Texas, two small breweries were each fined $5000 for their TSS peccadillos.)
- pH levels. Adding beer (and its attendant yeast) into a water body or system will affect pH levels, consequently making its acid or base levels inhospitable to important biota.
What about small amounts?
What is “small” is relative. Generally, how much beer you can pour down your drain with legal impunity has to do with your facility’s overall septic system. But if your drains go directly to the municipal sewer, then you should call us to get expert advice about hazardous waste disposal (888) 681-8923.
Do you have to toss stale beer?
Not necessarily. The world needs hand-sanitizer. But getting your beer to a distilled spirits plant or facility presents a hazardous waste transport problem, albeit one that might be easier to solve than disposal—but you should get expert advice about EPA and DOT transport requirements.
Meanwhile, the Brewers Association offers these tips for emptying kegs when disposing of beer:
- For both safety and economic considerations, it’s better to push beer from kegs with compressed air rather than CO2.
- If using CO2, do so in a well-ventilated area, monitoring to keep concentrations at safe levels (under 1,000 ppm).
- Use appropriate personal protective equipment (especially eye and hand protection).
- Larger drain hoses (1/2? ID) will decrease drain times.
- Adequately secure hose drain-ends to prevent flailing.
- Do not exceed a keg’s working pressure while emptying it.
Our hazardous waste experts are standing by to answer your questions. Call (888) 681-8923. Meanwhile, stay safe. And thank you for reading our blog!
Over 10 million gallons of beer were abandoned last March alone due to the nationwide cancellation of St. Patrick Day and March Madness festivities, which are the two biggest beer-consumption events of any year.
We did the math: that’s one million kegs, or the equivalence of 24 million cans of beer.
And things will likely get worse as big summer sporting events are postponed or canceled.
So, if you own or manage a bar, restaurant, or sporting venue with large amounts of stale beer that require disposal, you have a hazardous waste disposal task ahead of you—and you can get expert help here or call (888) 681-8923