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Aspen Distillers founder speaks at Food and Beverage Environmental Conference on innovation

Roaring Fork River

Aspen Distillers’ site draws water from its onsite well supplied from the Roaring Fork River Aquifer. Aspen Distillers recycles all of its wastewater and manages the site's stormwater to recharge the aquifer. Photo by Jon Flobrant.

The Pitkin County distillery uses onsite, energy-neutral wastewater treatment.

ASPEN, CO, UNITED STATES, March 31, 2023/ -- Aspen Distillers joined the likes of Molson Coors, Pepsico, Unilever, Smithfield Foods, Veolia Water Technologies and other environmental industry leaders in Lake Tahoe this week to present on the company’s innovative technology.

Pitkin County’s first distillery was recognized by major players in the Food and Beverage Industry at the industry only Food and Beverage Environmental Conference (FBEC), the premier and most comprehensive environmental event for the food and beverage industry in the United States. The event explores the latest innovations affecting water reuse, supply chain challenges and air quality.

Aspen Distillers founder, Matt Patel spoke Wednesday, the third day of the conference on Aspen Distillers’ onsite, energy-neutral wastewater treatment that will promote improved water quality and quantity to the Colorado River Basin.

“Safe, clean water is important to all Coloradans, whether the concern relates to domestic use, irrigation, recreation, or protecting fish and wildlife,” Patel says. “Given the ever greater scarcity of water, increased attention on wastewater and reuse will be an imperative for all to preserve the state's agricultural heritage, economy, and recreation.”

Aspen Distillers water strategy is informed by the Living Building Challenge (LBC), a rigorous green building challenge governed by the International Living Future Institute. Aspen Distillers is on a track to be the first distillery in the world to achieve this goal. The LBC water imperative aims to “realign how people use water and to redefine waste in the built environment to respect water as precious resource”

The challenge has only one water requirement — net positive water. The project must operate sustainably within the water balance of a given place and climate. Aspen Distillers' site draws water from its onsite well supplied from the Roaring Fork River Aquifer. Aspen Distillers recycles all of its wastewater and manages the site's stormwater to recharge the aquifer.

The project uses Aquacycl's BioElectrical Treatment Technology (BETT®) for wastewater treatment with the additional added benefits of an expected annual impact of reduced carbon emissions of 240t/year, power savings of 95,000 kWh/year, and sludge reduction of 72,000 lb/year that will avoid local landfills.

“The Aquacycl and Aspen Distillers partnership is an excellent example of how innovative technologies can solve water challenges within the Colorado River Basin,” says Will Sarni, CEO of the Colorado River Basin Fund and CEO of the Water Foundry. “The watershed is acutely impacted by climate change and the commitment by Aspen Distillers to adopt innovative technologies is exactly what we need to build a more sustainable and resilient Colorado River Basin.”

All of the stormwater is captured on site and infiltrated back into the soil through controlled design measures that leverage the site's natural hydrology. Since the distillery is located on a previously developed heavily paved site, the design intent helped restore the site as it existed prior to intensive development by recreating the natural hydrological flow of the area and re-introducing vegetation and biology native to the local ecosystem.

Additionally, the landscaping includes rain gardens and a cascading courtyard design to utilize gravity as a tool to carefully disperse the water along the sloped site.

Aspen Distillers was founded by Matthew Patel who assembled an ecosystem of talent to develop the first distillery in Pitkin County. The project is inspired by Aspen’s beauty and is firmly anchored in the “Aspen Idea” — first articulated in the 1940s — that human beings reach their highest level when the mind, body and spirit are empowered by nature’s beauty. Aspen Distillers has built its foundation on a commitment to protecting the environment, corporate responsibility and sustainability. The distillery will meet LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum certification and will go through a one-year audit governed by the International Living Future Institute to meet the Living Building Challenge, the most rigorous award for regenerative building practices.

Kaylee Harter
Aspen Distillers
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