New Belgium Brewing

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Colorado Technical University

New Belgium Brewing: Ethical and Environmental Responsibility

Case Study
Michael Strait, J.D., LL.M.
Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for
PHIL310
Ethics

By
Anthony Weir; 05B6315034

Colorado Springs, Colorado
June 2007
1. What environmental issue does the New Belgium Brewing Company work to address? How has NBB taken a strategic approach to addressing these issues? Why do you think the company has chosen to focus on environmental issues? New Belgium Brewing strives to reduce it’s impact on the environment. NBB invested in a wind turbine, making it the first fully wind powered brewery in the United States. NBB has also incorporated a steam condenser that captures and reuses hot water used for boiling barley and hops to start the next brew. The steam is also redirected to heat the floor tiles and de-ice the loading docks during winter. NBB has also incorporated sun tubes that help to light the brew house with natural daylight, along with many other energy saving processes. I believe that the company has chosen to focus on the environment because of the owner’s love of the out-doors.

2. Are NBB’s social initiatives indicative of strategic philanthropy? Why or why not? I do not believe that this is a case of strategic philanthropy. Jeff Lebesch seemed to have a love of the outdoors. The idea for the company began with a bicycling trip through Belgium, and he and his wife took a hike into Rocky Mountain National Park to write what the company’s core purpose would be. I believe that Lebesch felt that it was his responsibility to build his business as environmentally friendly as he possibly could, regardless of whether it would be beneficial to the stakeholders or not.

3. Some segments of society vigorously contend that companies that sell alcoholic beverages and tobacco products cannot be socially responsible organizations because of the nature of their primary products. Do you believe that NBB’s actions and initiatives are indicative of an ethical and socially responsible corporation? Why or why not? People will purchase alcohol and tobacco products regardless of who is manufacturing it. Just because a company manufactures alcohol, which is legal, does not make them irresponsible. The consumers are the ones that ultimately act irresponsibly. If they are promoting responsible drinking and discouraging the sale of alcohol to minors, then I believe that they are being ethically and socially responsible. If they can go into business, being environmentally friendly in their manufacturing and be socially responsible, and keep another company from succeeding that does not care about the environment or be socially responsible, then it will be better all around. Whether it is NBB or some else just looking to make a profit at any cost, someone will be there to manufacture alcohol and tobacco. We should applaud the companies that make genuine efforts to do the right things ethically, environmentally and socially.

4. What else could NBB do to foster ethical and responsible conduct? I believe that NBB is a very ethical and responsible company. If they want to further their efforts, I believe that they should continue to be very careful of all future marketing that they do. I think that it is great that they promote sports that are “human-powered” and cause minimal damage to the environment, but they should always be very careful of the demographics of the fans of those sports. Most sports will have fans that are children, but they should make sure that they are choosing sports that generally have fan bases that are of legal drinking age, or they should always include something about responsible drinking and avoid portraying that consumption of alcohol can make you cool. I think that giving back to the communities that NBB does business in is a very responsible thing to do. I think that if they were to team up with...
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