Sustainability Is a Priority at BA Events

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The Brewers Association (BA) is committed to continuously building better and stronger sustainability programs at our major events – Great American Beer Festival (GABF), Craft Brewers Conference (CBC), and Homebrew Con (HBC).

Since we return to the same venue on a yearly basis for the Great American Beer Festival, our strongest program exists at the LEED Gold Certified Colorado Convention Center. Having a sustainability program at CBC and HBC venues is also a top-of-mind priority once planning begins. Although currently, due to competing priorities, a strong sustainability program is not the determining factor in whether a venue is selected, it is still strongly considered in the selection process, and many of our future venues are LEED certified.

Waste Diversion

  • Single-stream recycling
  • Plastic film recycling
  • Aluminum recycling
  • Glass Bottle recycling
  • Compost (where available)

The BA has implemented a variety of practices designed to realize savings in water, energy, waste, sustainable management, and transportation practices. Examples include:

  • Eliminating waste from bottled water by setting up filling stations and encouraging attendees to bring their own reusable water bottle
  • Purchasing carbon offsets for a portion of the energy consumed by the event
  • Ensuring cups and service ware are recyclable and compostable
  • Using seasonal and local food offerings wherever possible
  • Asking about green programs at each venue, such as food donation programs for excess food

Diversion Rate: How Low (Impact) Can We Go?

Each year, the BA events department attempts to lessen the impact of BA events through sustainability programs. 2018 marked the 11th year of sustainability initiatives at the Great American Beer Festival. We continue to realize strategies that lower the environmental impact though waste reduction, resource recovery, energy use, and education. Partnerships with vendors such as ZeroHero, Freeman Exhibitor Services, convention centers, catering companies, and strong volunteer programs help us realize our yearly goals. We also work with the Colorado Carbon Fund for Colorado-based events.   

Some program components have included:


Our relationships with key vendors ensure the program runs smoothly on-site. Examples include:

  • Reuse of materials whenever possible, including signage, carpeting, column wraps, and pallets
  • Catering using compostable/recyclable items, including plates, bowls, cups, utensils, etc.
  • ZeroHero coordinates landfill diversion efforts during set up and tear down, as well as manages recovery on the docks to various waste management centers
  • BA events will be part of the Green Meetings Industry Council’s goal to divert one million tons of trash from the landfill
  • Exhibit hall house lights are kept at 50% during GABF

Sponsors and Exhibitors

Prior to arrival, we send all CBC sponsors and exhibitors education on venue-specific programs and a call for participation to make our events greener.

Landfill Diversion

We have a comprehensive pre- and post-festival recycling program, which includes:

  • Banning the use of Styrofoam at food outlets
  • Requiring all disposable items to be recyclable or compostable, including compostable water cups, plates and utensils
  • Making all commemorative beer glasses reusable, with the hope that attendees will use them for many years to come
  • Ensuring that all glass and plastic bottles, cans, paper and cardboard from our events are recycled
    • Glass recycling includes separating bottles from single-stream recycling and taking them directly to a packaging facility for reuse, foregoing multiple trips, sorting at various facilities, and shipping to the end-user
  • Requiring that bulk condiments are used at concession areas instead of single packets
  • Collecting and processing compostable items at a permitted commercial composting facility, with the goal that within 90 days this compost will become a rich soil amendment


Our sustainability efforts include our event participants as well. This includes:

  • Messaging about green events to attendees in advance and onsite
  • Encouraging attendees to request hybrid taxis whenever available
  • Providing information to participants on our event websites that suggest ways to determine carbon use to and from the event by calculating their footprint with the Denver Event CO2e Emissions Calculation Tool, and offsetting carbon use through the Colorado Carbon Fund

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