Denna sida på svenska This page in English

Craft beer on the path towards sustainability


Photo collage with a portrait of a man and a close up picture of hops.

Barry Ness, Associate professor in sustainability science at Lund University and CIRCLE affiliate

As a consumer of craft beer you might think your favourite local craft beer is not only brewed with local ingredients, but that it is also produced sustainably. However, this is usually not the case. This is why the craft beer sector is now working collaboratively with researchers to create and implement their 2040 sustainability vision.

Researchers and craft brewers collaborate through a program of events and activities to spur broader and longer term thinking around sustainability and brewery operations in Sweden, Germany and globally. Researchers from Lund University and Leuphana University collaborate in the SIBLINGS program by engaging with the breweries on a set of capacity building activities and events.

Barry Ness, Associate professor in sustainability science at Lund University and CIRCLE affiliate, as well as the co-chair of the program, explains:

– We work with craft brewers in southern Sweden and in Germany to inspire them to think more profoundly about sustainability in their respective organisations, both near- and long-term.

Social aspects on sustainability

The activities within the program vary from guest researcher seminars to targeted experiments where the brewers test to improve sustainability in their businesses or in the broader sector.

– We have worked with brewers on creating a year 2040-vision for the sector, and facilitated a common “backcasting”* exercise for them to better see pathways forward over the next 18 years to reach that vision.

Barry Ness highlights one particularly positive development that has come from the discussions:

– There is a strong desire by craft brewers in finding ways to foster greater diversity in the sector – especially social aspects such as community engagement, gender and diversity – not only on the consumer side, but also greater diversity employed at the breweries.  

The SIBLINGS project emerged as a part of the broader sustainability project TRANSFORM as a step to accelerate the transition to sustainability in small businesses, including craft breweries.

*Backcasting exercise – a planning method that starts with defining a desirable future and then working backwards to identify policies and programs that will connect that specified future to the present.


SIBLINGS – Sustainability Learning Network for craft beverage producers in Germany & Sweden – emerged as a part of the broader TRANSFORM project research activities, particularly through the collaboration of the two European project hubs at Lund and Leuphana Universities.

Read more about the SIBLINGS project on the TRANSFORM website – TRANSFORM activities in Lund and Leuphana in 2022. 

TRANSFORM – A Canada-based global network of researchers committed to building small and medium size companies’ capacity to accelerate the transition to sustainable and resilient communities.


Contact Barry Ness if you are interested in learning more about sustainability and craft breweries.


Barry Ness' profile in the Lund University research platform.