LIFE REFRESHMENT - REFRESHMENT - Pilot for enviRonmEntally FRiendly, Efficient, Sustainable and Healthy products developMENT.

LIFE15 ENV/BE/000267

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Contact details:

Contact person: Thomas Monin
Email: Thomas.monin@ab-inbev.com

Project description:


The brewing process generates large amounts of by-products and wastes. Spent grain is the most abundant by-product, accounting for approximately 85% of total generated brewing by-products.

Due to its high protein and fibre content and abundance throughout the year, several alternative uses for the brewing spent grain have already been explored. However, there are a number of barriers to the large scale adoption of some of these alternatives. First, the spent grain contains a high amount of water, which leads to significant costs and environmental problems associated with transport and/or drying procedures. Secondly, due to its high moisture and fermentable sugar-content, the spent grain spoils quickly, and thus needs to be used within a few days.

As a result, the spent grain by-product is poorly valorised, currently mainly used as animal feed, while its application as raw material in food, energy production and biotechnological processes is still underdeveloped and its nutritional value untapped.


The main objective of LIFE REFRESHMENT is to develop an innovative method for the re-use of spent grain as a raw material for the production of two types of non-alcoholic beverages. The first will be a clear organic fermented and carbonated drink. The second will be a healthy cereal-based breakfast drink, containing fibre and probiotics. Moreover, the by-products generated during the production of the healthy beverages from spent grain will potentially again be re-used for the production of cereal bars.

The developed technology, which aims to streamline the boiling phase of brewing, will test the production of the drinks on an industrial scale in an operating (brewery) setting. Specifically, the project will be implemented initially on a demo-scale, then on full industrial scale at the Stella Artois brewery in Leuven, Belgium. The concept process will be adapted to different natural flavours in the beverages.

This technique will also increase resource efficiency and reduce and valorise the waste generated during the brewing process. Some 30% of all produced spent grain could potentially be further processed using this new technology. The project therefore has a potential global impact: contributing to a shift towards a circular bio-based economy, with a reduced ecological footprint.

In addition, the project technology also offers good prospects for replication, and thus is in line with the goals and priorities of the 7th Environment Action Programme, aiming at the development of an innovative, circular economy, with no waste and providing a sustainable use of natural resources. It also contributes to the implementation of other EU policy and legislation, including the new EU Circular Economy Package, which sets and the Waste and Water Framework directives.

Expected results:

  • Resource efficiency: approx. 42 000 tonnes of spent grain produced in the Leuven and Magor breweries will be re-used on-site;
  • CO2 reduction: approx. 14 472 tonnes CO2 reduction associated with transport as the spent grains will be re-used on site;
  • Water usage: due to the high amount of water in the spent grain, there will be a water usage efficiency 50-75% higher compared with the current process used in the cereal-based beverage industry; and
  • Development of a new ‘green’ economic activity encouraging the creation of new jobs in the brewing industry.



Environmental issues addressed:


Industry-Production - Food and Beverages
Waste - Agricultural waste
Waste - Waste recycling


waste recycling‚  food production‚  organic waste

Target EU Legislation

  • Waste
  • Directive 2008/98 - Waste and repealing certain Directives (Waste Framework Directive) (19.11.200 ...

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Anheuser-Busch InBev nv/sa
Type of organisation International enterprise
Description Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV is a multinational beverage and brewing company headquartered in Leuven, Belgium. It is a leading global brewer and among the top five consumer product companies worldwide.
Partners AB InBev UK Limited, United Kingdom


Project reference LIFE15 ENV/BE/000267
Duration 01-JUL-2016 to 31-DEC -2019
Total budget 2,312,910.00 €
EU contribution 834,792.00 €
Project location Vlaams Gewest(België - Belgique) South East (IRL)(Ireland) South West (UK)(United Kingdom)


Read more:

Brochure "Pilot for enviRonmEntally FRiendly, Efficient, Sustainable and Healthy products development" (2.39 MB)
Poster "Pilot for enviRonmEntally FRiendly, Efficient, Su ...
Project web site Project's website


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version