Green America, the green consumer organization where I worked for almost seven years, has a program called Responsible Shopper that aggregates news and develops social responsibility profiles of prominent companies in consumer goods categories. The recently updated their profiles in the alcohol industry and there are some surprising findings.
For example, Boston Beer, the brewer of Sam Adams beers, gets a lousy C- in Labor and also in Health and Safety, and a measely C in the Environment category. I couldn’t find anything on the Responsible Shopper website describing the precise rating methodology. Although the program existed while I worked at Green America, I don’t recall their being a clear methodology for this then either. So even though I am an ardent supporter of the organization’s work, I have to wonder about the credibility of these ratings given that there is no transparent explanation of how the grades are developed.
All that said, there are some nuggets in here that will inform the sustainability-minded beer drinkers out there. An eye-opener was the fact that AnheuserBusch clocked in at #41 on the Political Economy Research Institute’s 2010 Toxic 100 Air Polluters list. Check out all the gory details right here.
Unfortunately, Boston Beer was the only craft brewer included in the Responsible Shopper breweries profile. I wonder how Sierra Nevada and New Belgium would fare if they were assessed. Knowing quite a bit about the environmental sustainability of both of these companies, I’m curious about their other social responsibility indicators such as labor and governance.