Leuven, BELGIUM — Detergent manufacturer Ecover has partnered with the world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch inbev, to produce dishwashing liquid made from leftover alcohol suds.
A quarter of the dishwashing liquid derives from the waste substances in the production of alcohol-free Leffe and Jupiler beer at Inbev’s brewer in Leuven, Belgium.
The process of brewing zero percent alcohol beverages required alcohol to be extracted from the beverages.
With the increasing popularity of alcohol-free beer, Inbev decided to ‘upcycle’ these waste streams and worked with ecover to develop the “too good to waste” detergent.
Ecover’s innovation head said that modifying the leftover alcohol appropriately, navigating customs legislation and negating the smell of the alcohol suds were all part of the challenge for the two partners.
Inbev currently sells most of its waste, specifically more than a million tons of spent grains, to the cattle industry.
Their european innovation and technical director said the beverage giant was looking for more environmentally friendly ways of reusing industrial waste.
“So, we looked at ‘can we use the alcohol in our products?’ And we did. When they extract the alcohol we noticed that it needs to undergo a cleaning step. So it’s a cleaning step and then it is put into trucks, transported here to Ecover and we put it in our product as an ingredient, as an active ingredient.”Tom Domen, Ecover Head of Innovation