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The innovations that The Alchemist has embedded throughout daily operations branch out into a wide variety of solutions in the aspect of solving UN Goals. Certain aspects that the business incorporates include recycling, not just in the sense of using aluminum for every beer can product they produce, but also by incorporating a forum of CO2 recycling as well. Tangible items are not the only thing being recycled by the Alchemist, as they run more than half of their company and its equipment on using solar panels, providing another form of giving back to the environment by reusing solar rays. Lastly, one of the most impactful solutions the Alchemist incorporates during the brewing process is their use of a Wastewater Treatment system. This complex process eliminates the extra hassle for water treatment facilities around the State, ultimately leading to a much less polluted environment.
Once the Hurricane destroyed the original business model Jen and John had dreamed of at the beginning of their careers, a pivot needed to be taken in the sense of rebuilding their company. Eliminating the restaurant perspective and journeying down the path of becoming a brewery opened the door for the business owners to focus on creating a beer that everyone would enjoy, but also doing so in their own original way that would make the environment a better place. The innovation of devising a treatment source for the heavy doses of water that would be required for the company to use on a daily operating bases was inspired by the fact that without this mechanism at their disposal, the hardships on the water treatment plants around their beloved state would be disruptive to the ecosystem and the aquatic life. Treatment plants can be overwhelmed by a surplus of untreated water being sent to their facilities or even heavy rain or other drastic environmental conditions can lead to facilities filling up faster than they are able to treat, eventually leading to possible release or overflow into the environment. These untreated toxins cause damage to the environment. This information lead to The Alchemist developing their own original treatment system that ensures the water they are sending to facilities is pre-treated and causes no environmental harm, even if sent straight to the nearest body of water immediately from their headquarters. “ We wanted to do something that would be super substantial, the equipment we use essentially means we are throwing out less amount of pollution than a household. We are using tons of water, but we are cleaning it so well we put zero extra strain on treatment facilities.”- Liz Schlege.
Going solar was an innovation that from the beginning of the company’s pivot stuck out as an important change that seemed necessary to convert to. With zero downsides, the change provided nothing but benefits for The Alchemist, the environment, and as it turns out, other businesses as well! Solar power is how more than half of their equipment is run at not only The Alchemist's main operating facility but also their storage warehouse. With their storage warehouse needing much less solar power than what their equipment provides, all excess energy credits they receive to the nearby Senior Center. “Knowing that we are essentially providing them free energy feels really good.” Liz Schlege. The ultimate goal the company is currently embarking on in the aspect of energy consumption is reaching Net Zero and becoming fully solar-powered.
When beginning the crafting process of beer, a fear the company had originally thought about is the fact of how much CO2 is produced during the creation of the beer. The company was aware the bigger companies in the industry had their tactics of eliminating the discomposure of Co2 and recycling it, but it was feared the hurdle of implementing this process into their small business could cost too much or even have a negative effect on the taste of their product. Not only were John and Jen able to find a technology that was relatively small so it would fit in the company’s smaller spaced facilities and be more cost-efficient. The result of this experiment also leads to a better-tasting product. The process of the machine recaptures previously used C02, sending this back into the machine and reusing the substance to re-carbonate their beer.
John and Jen prioritized making the world a better place by implementing a wastewater treatment system. Knowing the effects that “beer waste”- by Liz Schlege could cause on the environment if not properly dealt with, creating this system was very important if the Brewery was going to be the direction John and Jen took their business. Not only was this development a technology the state had never before heard of, but it was also a challenging task to prove their idea would work successfully. The Alchemist was demanded by the state to run a test project proving that the idea of this treatment system would work and be sustainable before the company would be granted a permit. “And now of course, they have sent everybody to come tour our facility and we have won all kinds of awards for our environmental work.” Liz Schlege.
One great example of an overall impact of an innovation that The Alchemist instilled into their company is they were able to originate an affordable water waste system that eliminates pollution in our ecosystem. Once the permit was granted to the company, their breakthrough idea was not only implemented in The Alchemist’s everyday work operations, it was encouraged to be copied by other companies. So while one business being economically friendly and eliminating the stress put on treatment facilities is a small stepping stone in the right direction, the goal of having the entire state of Vermont, and possibly even all across the world is the tangible goal The Alchemist set when their research provided successful results. Another example of a short-term goal that came full circle was the company’s decision to run their company using solar power. In the beginning, it was a profitable and economically friendly practice that benefited the company. Once the expansion was made to running solar power to their warehouses as well, other businesses such as the Senior Citizens home are now able to capitalize of sharing electricity with The Alchemist by receiving the excess energy not needed to run their facilities. The long-term goal in this aspect for the company is to achieve net zero, meaning all of their power is run off strictly solar energy. Achieving this goal will lead to more excess power that will ultimately be given to other places in their community to have access to and use as they may need.
Because of the innovations John and Jen were able to develop, an entire breakthrough was made in the Brewery industry. The over-pollution and marine wildlife downsides have been made possible to eliminate due to the monetarily friendly and convenient way that the company provided in their first-of-its-kind Water Waste Treatment operation. This also leads to multiple company benefits, most notably the hiring of over forty new employees. What started off as a small organization is rapidly growing due to the innovations the company made. Because of the fact that the company uses one hundred percent aluminum, which leads to being able to send multiple pallets of their product at a cheaper price, due to the fact their product is lighter in weight by not using glass. This gives the company the ability to save money in other areas and is a large reason they have the ability to hire multiple drivers as employees to spread their products across the Nation. Beneficial things happening is just a domino effect for the Alchemist based off decisions they make when looking deeper into the variety of environmental goals the company supports. If it were not for the company utilizing its solar power to full capacity, other businesses would not have the luxury of piggybacking off the excess energy not being put to use by the company. Their supreme understanding of doing the right thing and allowing others to either learn and incorporate The Alchemist’s tactics or benefit from the ideas they put in place on a daily work bases is what makes this company great at creating positive innovations throughout not only their community but community’s across the globe.
As far as the community goes, John and Jen have been pioneers in changing the environment. Not only does it benefit them, but it improves the lives of the people around them. They do not want it to just stop at them, they want this to be the direction that all breweries go. This is why the water waste system is so important, but it paved the way for other smaller businesses to follow suit. John and Jen invested a lot of funds, somewhere around $150,000, into this project to get it approved by the city but the impact that it would have on the community was more important to them. To this date, The Alchemist has been able to treat 2 million gallons (about 7570820 L) of wastewater and 1,200 gallons (about 4542.49 L) daily. Allowing them to put out less water pollution than an average household. This innovation ensures that the water let back into the community is fishable, drinkable, and swimmable.
By implementing solar panels into the business model, it allows the alchemist to eliminate gas emissions and slow down climate change. By being successful in doing this it shows other businesses the benefit of going green. John and Jen were able to create more energy for the business while saving money to put into other sustainability projects. It has also allowed neighboring businesses to benefit from the amount of energy they put out. They operate Next Door to the Senior Citizen facility, where they can provide solar energy too. They are not only saving costs for their business, but they are able to cut costs for the Senior home as well, and all will be doing it in a sustainable way.
The goal for John and Jen is to see a world where this is possible for all breweries. Liz Schlege states they will not be satisfied until they see a global impact and they believe that it starts with the Vermont community. With Vermont being the state with the most breweries per capita, it is important to limit the waste as much as possible and this is exactly what John and Jen are doing. They were paving the way for other Breweries to follow to improve their environment.
Liz Schlege, Executive Director
The company we chose is called The Alchemist, which is a brewery based out of Stowe, VT. We found the company on the AIM2Flourish website and really enjoyed the story behind it. We were able to find the contact information on their website and I was able to get in contact with Liz Schlege ([email protected]). The company was founded by a couple, Jen and John Kimmich in 2003. John and Jen both started off in the industry as servers/bartenders in a Pub. It is here where they fell in love and dreamed of opening their own pub. The dream of the couple was to operate a successful microbrewery/pub. They had this idea of how they wanted to be treated at work while giving the consumer a one-of-a-kind experience.