Big Grove Brewery offers a sip of sustainability for the Iowa City community

Big Grove Brewery received Iowa Green Brewery platinum certification through their sincere sustainable efforts at all levels of production. The brewery’s efforts highlight the need for change in the industry and pave a path forward for others to follow.


Jeff Sigmund

Iowa Waste Reduction Center Director Joe Bolick presents Iowa City Big Grove Director of Operations David Moore with the Certifcate of Achievement Platinum level on Friday March 13, 2020 at Big Grove Brewery.

Annie Fitzpatrick, News Reporter

Big Grove Brewery received a top sustainability certification from the Iowa Waste Reduction Center as part of its Iowa Green Brewery Certification program. The brewery earned what’s called a “platinum certification” for its commitment to sustainability within the Iowa City community.

According to the Iowa Waste Reduction Center’s website, the Iowa Green Brewery Certification program works directly with Iowa breweries to reduce their environmental impacts and focus on sustainable practices.

The certification process was created in 2017, and Big Grove has been a part of the program for two-and-a-half years, said Iowa Waste Reduction Center Director Joe Bolick. Bolick said that, with the growth of the brewing industry, concerns related to energy, efficiency, water quality, and solid waste diversion and disposal were apparent.

“There’s some pretty significant environmental concerns we have so it just made sense,” Bolick said. “Let’s develop a program for this industry.”

Big Grove Director of Operations David Moore said that it has been two years since the brewery was awarded gold certification, and the steps toward reaching the next level took commitment from everyone at Big Grove.

“Everybody got involved and did their part, and the employees came up with ideas of what to do,” Moore said.

Since its gold certification, Big Grove began composting, invested in equipment that used less energy in the beer-making process, utilized permeable pavers for its outside patios, and delved into philanthropic efforts for the community, Moore said. All of these initiatives and programs led to the brewery’s platinum certification, he said.

Moore added that leadership at Big Grove created a clear path to make these changes attainable. He said that, while these changes are not easy, Big Grove is fortunate to have community-wide success that gives it the ability to make sustainable changes.

“Success helps, I’m not going to lie … if you’re struggling it’s probably not your first thing you’re thinking about,” Moore said. “But we’ve been fortunate with the support. We have our customers to be able to have the money and capital and expertise and time to do these things.”

Bolick said that Big Grove has gone “above and beyond” to reduce its environmental impact and, as a result, has made significant changes to its processes that are actually sustainable instead of greenwashed.

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“It’s not an easy task,” Bolick said. “It takes an entire organizational commitment to the cause to reach this level.”

Big Grove Owner Danny Stanley said that his business’ commitment to sustainability not only helps the culture within the brewery, but also positively impacts the Iowa City community. Stanley and his family have committed themselves to a zero waste lifestyle, so the changes Big Grove has made already align with his personal values, he said.

“Being able to have the impact that we’re having has been just like amazing for me,” Stanley said. “ … and then taking it to the next level and doing the stuff that I have a lot of passion for in my own life.”

Moore said that Iowa City is a “special place” in regard to having a sustainable mindset, so he anticipates that Big Grove’s community will appreciate its efforts. He said that Big Grove will continue to think of new ways to be more sustainable.

“People really care,” Moore said. “I think they want to know that you’re caring, so they can know that they’re buying the right place.”

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