Making Beer Sustainable with Workshop Brewing


For Bruno David his craft brewery business, Workshop Brewing, is the antithesis of a big brewery - stocking every supermarket in the country. Along with business partners, Matt Williams and Jake Gibbs, the Workshop boys are solely focused on ways they can create a boutique, sustainable product from locally sourced ingredients.

With a former day job as a freshwater ecologist, Bruno is keenly aware of the environment and its complexities as well as our human impact on nature.


“We don’t put the appropriate values on things like how much energy has gone into making something like a glass bottle,” he says.


(listen to the full interview below:)


Bruno and the crew are trying to take small steps to look at how they can make their glass bottle packaging more sustainable but says that it can be “difficult for small businesses.”

Currently in New Zealand, glass bottles are collected through recycling, smashed up and then recreated into new bottles again. There are options for reusing glass bottles by washing and sterilising them - similar to the can holders - but there is no current system or entity in place to make that option economical for smaller businesses.

Bruno says that part of the problem is that there needs to be standardisation around glass bottle shapes and sizes so that each business can get their bottles from a local distributor. If each company has to send their bottles to a company far away (because they are the only company that deals with those kinds of bottles,) the transport costs and the ensuing impact on the environment can creep up.

Locally, he points out businesses like Dreamview Farm who have created their own system for collecting, washing, sterilising and then distributing their glass bottles because there is no system in place that addresses the issue of reusing glass bottles.

Ultimately, he says that glass bottle washing plants need to be implemented nation-wide, with a lot more businesses jumping on board, for it to make economical sense.

Looking at other options like Swappa Crates, Bruno says that the big breweries have a monopoly on the 745ml bottles which means the bottle manufacturers won’t produce them for other breweries - making it a difficult system to implement for a small craft brewery like Workshop.

Having recently become a member of the Brewers Guild of New Zealand he hopes to have more input at an industry level and says that introducing reusable glass bottles is a project they are working on in the background.

When the business initially launched their range of craft beers, the crew came up with an innovative idea to use reusable beer pack holders made out of repurposed plastic instead of the single-use six-pack rings that are often seen littered on beaches and stuck around the bodies of marine animals.

Using plastic that was destined for landfill, the brewery makes reusable can holders from them, effectively taking that plastic out of the waste circuit. The reusable can holders are returned to the brewery once the beer has been drunk, where the boys wash and sterilise them by hand so they can be used again.

“We do have to factor in the labour of washing and sanitising the holders for reuse,” says Bruno, adding that it’s about balancing costs as well because if there are high costs associated with washing, it can make the final cost of the product unattainable for some.

With a return rate of about 45% for the can holders, Bruno reckons it’s working well and regales a story where one customer sent theirs back from Holland - although he points out that the freight is not great from a transport emissions point of view.

Meanwhile, the Workshop team has been busy in the lab cooking up some delicious experimental autumn brews from locally sourced apples, ?????  and chilean guavas. Available in a range of ciders, spritzers and non-alcoholic sodas, Make sure to head down to Workshop Brewing to check them out.

Workshop Brewing, open Thu to Sat, 1pm-5.30pm, 2 Park Drive Raglan - website: