Craft yeast company explores upcycling their typically wasted ingredients
Escarpment Laboratories is an innovative, Canadian yeast producer for the craft beer industry and home brewers. They regularly experiment with new ways to use their ingredients and by-products and have expanded on that in the COIL Activate Circular Accelerator program (COIL Activate). Escarpment Labs’ project focused on reducing in-house waste, whether that’s avoiding overproduction, streamlining processes, or finding new uses for unavoidable waste.
Piloting new products: Escarpment Labs successfully piloted three new products from upcycled ingredients. The new products include shoyu (soy sauce) from brewer’s spent grain, malt vinegar made from spent yeast substrate, and various baked goods made with spent yeast liquid in place of water. These products are projected to divert 25% of waste currently produced.
Validating inputs for production: New yeast production requires a minimal input of live yeast; Escarpment Labs was able to validate that expired yeast can be used in place of commercial yeast extract as a nutrient source for new yeast production, ultimately reducing the amount of yeast wasted. This also extends the lifecycle of all yeast produced at Escarpment Labs.
How they made it work
Through COIL Activate and the educational content included in the program, Escarpment Labs was able to shift their thinking and include more circular practices into everyday operations. Familiar business concepts, like lean manufacturing, in principle have the same core values as circularity. This assisted Escarpment Labs to not only limit their production to what is necessary, but also eliminate unnecessary waste and create value from unavoidable waste. This enabled them to stay profitable in tough times and continue experimenting with new ideas.
“Don’t try all your [circular] ideas at once. There’s so much value in the proof of concept and if you can get one idea to work and there’s value being created… prove that you can do it once even if it’s relatively small and simple. It’ll help build the momentum to do it bigger.” – Richard Preiss, Co-founder, and brewing scientist at Escarpment Laboratories