2018 Most Valuable Pollution Prevention Project Winner: Widmer Brothers Brewery, Portland Oregon

Widmer Brothers BWidmer Brothers logorewery, a pioneering Pacific Northwest craft brewer established in 1984 and located in Portland, OR, is part of Craft Brew Alliance, the seventh-largest craft brewing company in the U.S. 


This winning pollution prevention project reduced 60 percent (6,000 pounds) of discharges of Total Suspended Solids, 11 percent (10,000 lbs) of Biological Oxygen Demand, and over $150,000 dollars saved annually, by identifying behavior-based changes and equipment to keep high strength waste from the drain.

Widmer Brothers Brewery implemented a pollution prevention project focused on optimizing wastewater discharge as part of their World Class Craft operational goals. The project included diverting yeast to be re-purposed off-site, spent grain dewatering, behavior-based process changes, and increased solids monitoring. The brewery participated in the Oregon Applied Sustainability Experience Internship Program by hosting a free, Oregon DEQ funded 10-week summer intern, Oregon State University engineering graduate Alan Haynes.

Alan and the brewery team explored ways to prevent high Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) and total suspended solids (TSS) waste from going down the drain, through both cost-effective, low down-time methods and building a proposal for capital expenditure projects.

Alan Haynes, Oregon State University
Alan Haynes, Oregon State University

The team developed a process map and mass balance to fully understand the opportunities for improvement: “everyone across the brewery was engaged to help identify areas of waste and improvement opportunities…by improving communication and coordination between different departments, discharge overflow could be avoided and less high-strength wastewater discharged. Alan identified the appropriate technology to implement the solutions and ran the numbers on the return on investment for each”.

Innovations included use of a TSS meter and in-house chemical oxygen demand testing at key process points such as tank cleaning, yeast harvesting, kegging, and filler bowl dumps that contribute to high-strength wastewater. In addition, management approved a $30,000 equipment purchase to divert spent grain dewatering liquids, which is now hauled to regional dairy farms to be re-purposed as a feed adjunct, saving the company an estimated $160,000 per year.


The wastewater optimization project lead and sustainability manager Julia Person writes that the project “enabled the brewery to approach the City with sophisticated data in hand and open up an important dialogue about the pollution prevention efforts…The project also created an engaged culture and awareness around wastewater that is essential to operations, and is being strengthened daily. The engagement will continue, as there are plenty of opportunities, and employees now have the mindset and tools in hand to tackle the issues….Aspects of this project are already being shared across the industry and within the region. The worked kicked off by the pollution prevention internship lead to significant, measurable impacts on the brewery and as a result, cleaner wastewater is being discharged.”

The Most Valuable Pollution Prevention (MVP2) Awards are judged on five broad criteria: innovation, measurable results, transferability, commitment, and optimization of available project resources and are awarded in seven categories. Past recipients are listed on our Past MVP2 Recipients page. If you would like more information, please send us an email at admin@p2.org.