How 4 Pines Brewing Company made sustainability a business advantage

"If you’re diverting more waste from the landfill (to compost), there’s a good chance you’re saving money too."

This was the advice of Sustainability Manager, Kiera Murphy, from 4 Pines Brewing Company, at a recent sustainability event at Taronga Zoo.

Taronga Zoo hosted the event at their Institute of Science and Learning and brought together Sydney business owners, managers, sustainable suppliers and behaviour change movements. The room was buzzing with excitement as we strengthened our networks and deepened our understanding of the solutions to plastic pollution. 

When Kiera took the mic and inspired everyone to get started on their plastic free journey, we all had goosebumps! Afterwards, together with Plastic Free Bondi we sat down with Kiera to find out more about their journey. Here’s some learnings from the hospitality legends behind the 4 Pines beer you see in local pubs and bottleshops. Get frothing!

What inspired 4 Pines to make sustainability a focus?

4 Pines was born over a decade ago from a casual conversation between a father and son, post surf, who simply wanted an exceptional beer and options were limited. Our original Brew Pub in Manly, was built on throwing convention out the window, using alternative methods to measure success and having fun while we did it.

Sustainability, or our commitment to environmental and social responsibility, was originally inspired by the environment we do business in and the communities we serve. It’s hard not to care when your business is down the street from a marine protected sanctuary and you get to know your customers from behind the bar. Or when you’re at the beach and see a 4 Pines bottle cap, you’re empowered to take responsibility to pick it up. Because your home is our home too. I genuinely hope that future generations will be able to sit out and watch the sun go down over the water, with a beer in hand, and think to themselves, “How good is this?” Because the world is still a rad and safe place to be!

 

Sustainability is such a broad area, can you break down the key priority areas for 4 Pines? 

All businesses should have to consider and take responsibility for the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. There’s no denying that the beer industry contributes to climate change and to brew beer far into the future we have to preserve and regenerate the world’s natural resources. And everyone has to start somewhere. We are a Certified B Corp and use the B Corp Impact Assessment to measure our impact and make continuous improvements year-to-year. B Corp Certification doesn’t just evaluate a product or service; it assesses the overall positive impact of the company that stands behind it. And increasingly that’s what people care most about. People want to work for, buy from, and invest in businesses they believe in. B Corp Certification is a powerful way to build credibility, trust, and value for your business. The B Impact Assessment is used by over 50,000 businesses and is a FREE tool. It’s so helpful when you’re trying to set priority areas!

Which companies/social enterprises have you partnered with to help reach your goals?

We’re definitely not alone. We work closely with B Lab and other B Corp Certified businesses. But we also work with local government, not-for-profit organisations, and local heroes. We’ve learned so much from the passionate leaders in our community. We’ve worked with organisations like Surfrider Foundation Australia, SO Manly, Plastic Free Manly, Better Business Partnerships, Marine Stewardship Council, and more. I definitely encourage organisations and businesses to learn more about each other’s challenges and needs to create change. There’s no denying that we can accomplish more when we work together..

 

Have your suppliers been cooperative in complying to 4 pines standards? Has this had a knock on effect to the way they do business?

When you take a deep dive in waste management, you need to be patient and let go of perfectionism. One of the biggest challenges is working with suppliers to eliminate plastic packaging form their supply chains to help us reach our “zero waste” dream. But it’s, by far, the biggest opportunity! It’s all about trying to start the conversation right from the beginning. Do your suppliers share you values or do they need support in making changes themselves? Suppliers are in tune to customers’ needs. If you talk to your suppliers about your sustainability goals, you can quickly start to find solutions to reach them together. You’re not always going to get the perfect answer, but that doesn’t mean you’re not making progress. 

 

How did you get everyone who works at 4 Pines along on the journey?

We have two key programs at 4 Pines, “Save The Pines” and “1 For The Community”. Both programs cover our company-wide commitment to environmental and social responsibility and our B Corp Certification. Staff know that sustainability is a core part to our business. We set clear goals and make sure it’s a part of everyone’s job day-in-day-out. But engagement and commitment requires education. Specific training around things like, waste management, is necessary. It’s always a work in progress

 

What have been the unexpected benefits of introducing sustainability practices?

If you’re starting out on your sustainability journey, start with waste management. If you’re diverting more waste from the landfill or banning the use of straws all-together, there’s a good chance you’re saving money too. There’s also a high probability that you’ll attract new and loyal customers and retain staff who really care.

 

What have been the biggest challenges?

Responsible waste management takes heaps of time and not everyone’s willing to sort through the rubbish. The waste management solutions here in Australia are limited, but you can’t let the perfect get in the way of the good. With the time or space you have, you have to do the best you can. And you can’t be afraid to ask for help. There are so many resources out there and passionate waste warriors who’d be more than happy to help a local business make a change they’re asking for. Maybe it’s even one of your staff members who would love the opportunity to make a difference!

 

What would your advice be to businesses who want to reduce their plastic?

Start with asking yourself where the plastic comes from and then asking yourself if there’s an alternative or if you even need it! I always ask myself and our staff, “How can we do better here?”