Lebanon news - NOW Lebanon :: If not now, when? - Producing change
Gemmayzeh-based 961 Beer, is another establishment that has made “green living” part of its brand. According to owner Mazen Hajjar, 961 Beer was set up to be “a driving force for change, and not just in the way people perceived beer.”
“When we wrote up the business plan, we incorporated a lot of ethical clauses and corporate governance, transparency and responsibility,” he explained. All employees are given stock options, as well.
961 Beer has made a point of promoting social causes, such as sponsoring children with cancer for treatment. A campaign is planned for next month where part of the proceeds from each beer sold will be donated to help reforest Lebanon.
“We’ve tried to minimize our carbon footprint as much as possible,” said Hajjar. 961 Beer’s brews use all natural ingredients, and excess grain from the brewing process is donated to local farmers for feed. All of 961 Beer’s boxes are made from recycled material, and Hajjar reports that they will be giving five cent refunds on beer bottles returned for recycling, once the bottling operation is in full swing. They are also finalizing a deal where spent frying oil will be donated to make bio-diesel fuel, which the company plans to buy for its own electricity generation as well.
Added Hajjar, “Once we reach a certain scale, we want to make sure that all our suppliers abide by ‘fair trade’ rules.” The aim is to eventually go 100% organic. The ideal situation is organic or as close to that as possible.”
Producers go green
Hajjar does have local options in that direction; Lebanon has a small but vital organic foods industry, with over 330 enterprises involved in organic food production, most of them small farms and businesses. Some have started up for altruistic reasons, but others see potential profits in the price premium organic foods command.
Fadi Daw, an ALOA board member and proprietor of Adonis Valley, an organic foods producer near Jbeil, said, “It's very good for the environment, and it's a growing business.”
Not only are organic products healthier for consumers, they are more environmentally friendly. For instance, chemicals from pesticides and fertilizers used in non-organic farming can leach into streams and ground water, as well as pumping noxious gases into the air.
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