A Denver brewery and commercial marijuana cultivator are both saving trees and growing weed, thanks to an emissions recycling partnership.
Earlier this year, Denver Beer Co. and the Clinic dispensary announced a plan in which the Clinic's marijuana growers would use the carbon dioxide produced during Denver Beer's fermentation process as a growing supplement. The first installment of a pilot program unveiled by the state departments of Energy and Public Health and Environment in January, the partnership has since saved 93 trees' worth of CO2 emissions, according to Denver Beer, while also helping the Clinic grow its product more sustainably.
A byproduct of yeast converting sugars into alcohol and carbonation during beer production, CO2 is also a marijuana growing supplement used to boost yields. Earthly Labs, a Colorado carbon emissions recycling company, has been capturing Denver Beer's CO2, purifying it, then handing it off to the Clinic, which has been using the recycled CO2 for most of 2020.
Marijuana plants take months to grow from seed, however, so the project partners have just now been able to determine that plants grown with recycled CO2 have the same health and yield as plants grown with the commercially sourced CO2 that the Clinic has trucked in from the East Coast.
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Zach Engel, operations director for the Clinic, says that he believes Clinic staffers were the first marijuana cultivators in the country to use CO2 born in the same fermentation tanks as ales to grow pot, and he plans to continue the collaboration. “We are excited to expand our partnership with Denver Beer Co., advancing sustainability and climate science for our industry while making better bud," he says in a statement, adding that moves like this could "inspire" dispensary shoppers to think more about the environment before lighting up.
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In no coincidence, the Clinic will be releasing a new strain grown with the recycled CO2 on Friday, July 3, dubbed 93 Hoppy Trees in honor of the beer it came from and the trees it saved.
“We believe climate change is real. With the support of the Clinic, we want to do our part to innovate and inspire, providing a platform for others to follow," says Denver Beer co-founder Charlie Berger.
The pilot program was another CDPHE marijuana initiative pushed by Kaitlin Urso, an environmental protection specialist who works with small businesses and researches their environmental impacts. Urso, who is also leading a study into the emissions produced by marijuana terpenes, says she hopes that more Colorado marijuana growers and breweries will consider CO2 recycling partnerships after the Clinic presents its cultivation findings during the Cannabis Sustainability Summit webinar series on July 15.
“Colorado’s focus on reducing CO2 emissions to address climate change requires innovation from small and big business," Urso explains. "The pilot was a huge success, demonstrating the ability to capture nearly 100 trees' worth of carbon dioxide in a few months and create more natural products for Colorado consumers to enjoy.”