Skip to content

Portico Brewing Makes Sustainability A Community Affair

Photo Courtesy Portico Brewing Company

All-electric Portico Brewing in Somerville, Massachusetts, is a taproom, brewery, and kitchen devoted to sustainability. It offers sustainable initiatives for customers and staff members to participate in while working closely with community groups such as the Somerville Community Choice Electricity program and the Charles River and Mystic River Watershed Associations. , The popular hangout, founded in 2012, has a long-term goal of eventually achieving official Zero-Waste certification.

For Rob Vandenabeele, Portico’s director of sustainability, making those green choices has always been paramount for the business. He mentioned the company focuses on its carbon “handprint” rather than “footprint,” meaning a strong focus on local and community efforts.

Photo Courtesy Portico Brewing Company

“When I first joined the Portico team, we started brainstorming ways the brewery could genuinely be more environmentally conscious,” Vandenabeele told The Business Download. “Trouble is, it gets a bit demoralizing when you only focus on your ‘carbon footprint’ because most industries are material, energy, and waste intensive, and craft brewing is no different.” 

“We ultimately came to the conclusion that instead of greenwashing — spending more time promoting inconsequential actions than actually minimizing environmental impact — it made more sense to focus on what we could do to compensate for our material, energy, and waste footprints,” he continued.

“That’s when we identified our major initiatives, which are climate action, sustainable transportation, protecting our local waterways, decreasing single-use plastic waste, and taking an active role in caring for young trees in our neighborhood.”

Photo Courtesy Portico Brewing Company

The brewery enrolled in the Somerville Community Choice Electricity program and selected the

100% Local Green option, which relies on renewable energy certificates from solar, wind, anaerobic digestion, and low-impact hydro sourced in New England. 

Portico was awarded a Reduce, Reuse, Repair Grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for a Taproom Reusables program to help it cut down and eventually eliminate all single-use plastic. Portico’s sustainable efforts were also rewarded with an official Green Brewery designation from the BetterBev initiative.

Additionally, the brewery has a can carrier take-back program, which helps prevent hard-to-recycle packaging by reusing durable plastic packaging.

Portico is currently working to earn a Bike-Friendly Business certification from the Bike League. The company is also a supporter of the Somerville Bicycle Committee, Boston Cyclists Union, Cambridge Bicycle Safety, and MassBike advocacy groups. 

Photo Courtesy Portico Brewing Company

For now, Portico is highly focused on reaching zero waste.

“Waste is an underappreciated public health and environmental issue,” Vandenabeele said. “We live in a throw-away society that is addicted to convenience — the average American creates nearly 5 pounds of trash per day.

The problem is, when a person or a business throws something ‘away,’ be it a landfill, incinerator, or the environment, there are negative consequences ranging from greenhouse gas emissions to toxic waste residues that risk contaminating soil or groundwater to negative life quality impacts on those living in environmental justice communities where landfills and incinerators are typically located.”

“We have been able to reduce our trash to about half of what a typical brewery produces, but there is still more work to be done: working with our food vendor to completely eliminate single-use service ware, finding a solution for catering to larger groups without resorting to disposable items, and educating our staff and customers on the importance of reducing, reusing and composting/recycling,” he continued. “Realistically, we’re probably a year away from achieving that goal.”

Photo Courtesy Portico Brewing Company

Portico hopes to inspire others in the community — businesses and individuals — to make sustainable choices.

“We would love to see others in the beverage industry mimic some of the environmentally-conscious practices we’ve adopted,” Vandenabeele said. 

“A pie-in-the-sky goal, though not impossible in a community like ours, would be to help pioneer the kinds of city-wide policies that require businesses to adopt sustainability goals and operating procedures,” he concluded. “It should be important to everyone, including business owners, who care about quality of life and a sustainable future for themselves and those who will have to live on this planet several decades from now.”F


Back To Top