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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Adriana Lopez Castro

Resource management to increase value in the microbrewery industry

This dissertation work studies the brewing industry, in specific microbreweries given the fast growth of the microbrewery’s incipient market in Chile and UK. During the last 10 years, the market has experienced a dramatic rise both in Chile and UK, accounting 240 and 1,670 microbreweries, respectively. The beer production process is energy and water intensive, with figures that can be even higher in the case of microbreweries. Also during this process high organic content wastewater, CO2, yeast and spent grain as by-products are produced, posing an opportunity for capturing that value.
The project explores the relationship of the microbrewery with its surroundings, how they can affect the implementation of industrial symbiosis with other companies and the feasibility of further integration. Furthermore, the study intends to investigate which practices add value in the different contexts though the characterisation of a few microbreweries in Chile and UK. A qualitative research approach was taken using primary data from interviews complemented with different sources of secondary information.


The findings indicate that microbreweries have similar approaches regarding the disposal of waste and by-products, independently from their size and location. Many times they rely on informal agreements for dealing with spent grain and depend on other supporting businesses to help with activities out of their core business. Another interesting finding is related to the triggers for embedding sustainability concepts from the design and the role of previous experience in its incorporation.


Finally, a model to guide in the decision making considering the resource management and the creation of additional value under a sustainability perspective is proposed. It is expected that the work will also provide insights to new possibilities to capture and create value relevant for the brewing industry that can be applicable to small companies from other sectors in manufacturing.