New Zealand’s Sawmill Brewery has achieved B Corp status, an international certification that recognises commitment to social and environmental responsibility and transparency.

Sawmill is the first Kiwi brewery to join the club, which includes over 2,500 businesses globally, including All Birds, Patagonia and New Belgium Brewery, who believe business can be a force for good.

B Corp was launched in 2006 by B Lab, a not-for-profit, with the aim of accelerating a global shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. The premise of B Corp is that ‘good’ business is not just about profit, it’s about making a positive overall impact on the environment and the community and being accountable for that commitment.’

To achieve B Corp status, businesses are assessed on policies and practices across five categories: governance, workforce, customers, community and environment.

“As a brewery, we have always been fiercely independent,” says Sawmill Brewery co-owner Kirsty McKay. “We do best when we think for ourselves, both about brewing and about the way we run our business.

“We know most people aren’t buying Sawmill because of our sustainability credentials. They buy it because its great beer and no matter what else we do, that is always the starting point. Getting B-corp certified isn’t a marketing objective. We worked for it because it’s the way we want to do business.”

Sawmill has the largest solar power system of any brewery in New Zealand, uses all its grey water for irrigation on-site, and produces less landfill than an average Kiwi household. McKay says that the B Corp process has had a considerable effect on the team.

“It forces us to measure things we have done for a long time so we can accurately report on them,” she explains. “That’s when you really see the impact you can have and that everyone here contributes to. Every decision we make goes through a filter: what option has the best environmental and social outcome? There are many ways for us to contribute – our time, using the place we have here, our beer.

“Sustainability is not a compromise in running a successful business. From an operational perspective it requires a huge focus on efficiency which makes us a much stronger business. It also makes us a better employer and ultimately of more value to our community. And all of this is compounding – you become more resilient, more innovative. We want Sawmill to be around and relevant in 10 years so we need to be thinking about what business will look like then.”

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