In the western states, the heavy snowpack this year has significantly alleviated drought conditions. As a prudent measure, it is recommended to contact your municipal water supplier and inquire about any potential source changes that may impact the mineral content of your brewing water supply. It is likely that water in western regions will have lower mineral content compared to previous years.
For an insightful review on water supply risks and potential concerns in Southwestern states this Vox news article provides valuable information about the challenges faced by the Colorado River and Lake Mead due to ongoing drought conditions.
To assist brewers in evaluating the risk level of their water supply, the BA developed the Water Risk Assessment Tool. This interactive Power BI dashboard tool offers an assessment of potential supply risks such as drought and quality, along with various quality metrics based on a brewery’s geographical location. The tool proves to be a valuable resource, providing brewers with insights into the risk level associated with their water supply. Additionally, the tool’s landing page contains links to other informative documents concerning water usage in breweries, how to develop a water stewardship plan, and ways to mitigate various water risks. A presentation on this tool was delivered at the 2023 Craft Brewers Conference in Nashville. If you were unable to attend the conference, the presentation will be made available soon on the tool’s landing page.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun focusing on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in municipal water supplies. This EPA news release offers insights into how they are examining PFAS in water supplies and plans to address potential risks to ensure the safety of drinking water. Brewers need high quality and safe drinking water to make beer. PFAS are also used in the production of cans in the outside coating material. This is discussed in more detail in the next section.
Cans and Bottles
PFAS are a group of chemicals that have been widely utilized in various consumer products since the 1940’s. These chemicals have found applications in nonstick cookware, water-repellent clothing, cosmetics, stain-resistant fabrics, and firefighting foams. They are also employed in packaging materials, including can coatings. Concerns regarding PFAS exposure revolve around potential immune system suppression and increased risks of certain cancers. PFAS gained recognition initially due to their strong and long-lasting bonds, earning them the label of “forever chemicals.”
In a significant move, several states have initiated measures this year to prohibit the use of PFAS in food contact surfaces, specifically targeting their application in the outer coatings of aluminum cans. Vermont implemented a ban on July 1, 2023, while Connecticut’s will come into effect on December 31, 2023. In addition, Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota will follow suit, starting on January 1, 2024, with more states expected to join. It’s important to note that regulations may differ from state to state, so it is recommended to consult with your state guild to obtain specific guidance tailored to your area. Can manufacturers have been actively working on timely solutions to ensure compliance and meet these deadlines. Brewers are encouraged to talk with their can manufacturers as replacement material may have downstream effects.
The growing popularity of canned beer in recent years has led to increased concerns and issues at recycling facilities of cans using plastic shrink wrap or pressure-sensitive labels (PSLs). The BA actively encourages and supports the development of solutions that preserve the recyclability of aluminum cans. For more detailed information on this topic, you can refer to the Alternative Can Label Recycling Challenges resource.
Attribution: Article Retrieved from the Brewers Association, written By Supply Chain Subcommittee.
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