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Beef and beer joining forces to reduce emissions

28 October 2021

We’ve always known beef and beer go hand-in-hand, but a new collaboration between MLA, Young Henry’s Brewery and the University of Technology Sydney is taking this iconic duo to a whole new level – converting by-products from brewing beer into livestock feeds that reduce methane emissions.  

Here, we speak to Doug McNicholl, MLA’s Program Manager of Sustainability Innovation, about how this partnership ties into the industry’s target to be carbon neutral by 2030.

What are you hoping to achieve from this partnership?

The aim is to accelerate and expand MLA’s efforts to bring cost-effective, methane-reducing livestock feeds to market to help industry achieve its Carbon Neutral 2030 (CN30) target – a key objective under the Red Meat 2030 Strategy and MLA’s Strategic Plan 2025

Together with our industry partners, we’re aiming to develop a methane-mitigating feed supplement in the form of ‘microalgae’ (grown using the carbon dioxide produced during the brewing process).

Animal feeding trials will be conducted to evaluate the methane reduction and animal productivity benefits of the microalgae. If successful, this process could be implemented in breweries everywhere, plus pave the way for applications in other industries with carbon dioxide suitable for algae production.

Since being announced on Tuesday, news of the partnership has reached more than 20 million people, with the red meat industry featured in positive stories across national TV, radio and newspapers.

How did the partnership with Young Henry’s and UTS come about?

In 2020, we released our MLA CN30 Roadmap to describe what a carbon neutral red meat industry could look like.

Recognising the need to attract technology and investment partners, we called for proposals under the roadmap’s work areas. In collaboration with Young Henry’s, UTS successfully pitched their novel feed production concept. MLA is investing in the project using Commonwealth Government funds via the MLA Donor Company.  

Why is MLA investing in this? 

Feed additives that can reduce livestock methane emissions and improve livestock productivity are an important part of the CN30 Roadmap. Investments like this also support the circular economy; converting by-products from one industry into valuable product(s) for the red meat industry.

If enough product can be produced to incorporate into feedlot rations and supplementation programs on-farm in a safe, cost-effective way, we’re going to make a significant impact on livestock emissions, as well as introduce a new feed supply to industry.

With steady beer consumption in Australia (35.6% according to the 2021 Roy Morgan’s Alcohol Consumption Report) and more than 90% of Australian households regularly enjoying beef, it makes sense to bring partnerships like this together.

Australians have a proud history of coming together over a few beers and delicious beef, and partnerships like this will ensure that Aussies can continue that tradition knowing that it’s good for them and good for the environment.