PROVIDENCE, RI – In an effort to help reduce pollution and help Rhode Island’s breweries, distilleries, and wineries sustainably grow, U.S. Senator Jack Reed announced that the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will receive $200,000 in federal funding for a new statewide, pollution prevention program.

The federal Pollution Prevention Grant Program, which is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will help local brewers, distillers, and vineyards individually and collectively minimize the environmental impact of producing beer, wine, and liquor, while also cutting long-term costs.  DEM may use the federal funds to provide pollution prevention technical assistance and training to Rhode Island’s alcoholic beverage manufacturers.  The program aims to conserve water in the manufacturing process while reducing wastewater discharges.

A member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Reed helped secure $4.6 million for the Pollution Prevention Grant Program in the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations law.  This level of funding ensures DEM will receive $100,000 to get the program started and should receive another $100,000 next year, pending Congressional appropriations.  DEM will provide matching funds.

“This small grant can be a big help for small businesses and the environment,” said Senator Reed.  “Rhode Island’s breweries, distilleries, and wineries contribute a great deal to Rhode Island’s economy and tourism.  We are fortunate that local craft brewers, distillers, and vineyards have been champions of environmental sustainability -- from local and organic sourcing to recycling and green distribution practices.  This grant will help find more innovative ways to reduce pollution, go green, and sustainably grow their business.”

Alcohol production has the potential to have a significant impact on the environment.  This federal grant will help local companies reduce byproducts in wastewater and identify energy conservation opportunities.  According to the EPA, it will reduce the amount of energy they use via a partnership with the state’s electricity supplier and an energy auditing firm, reduce usage of hazardous materials in cleaning operations and use webinars, trainings and roundtables to amplify this work within the brewery, winery and distillery community.

Rhode Island is home to over 60 alcoholic beverage producers, including nationally acclaimed craft brewers, distillers, and winemakers.

Senator Reed noted that during the COVID-19 outbreak, several of these manufacturers retooled their businesses to produce hand sanitizer to protect people and keep their businesses running.

The Rhode Island Brewer’s Guild’s “Brewery Map” includes stops at over thirty notable brewers and distillers around the state and many of Rhode Island’s vineyards are open for tours and tastings as well.