• Ryan Hollis

A real circular economy on the Sunshine Coast Hinterland

A little while ago I was lucky enough to spend some time discussing circular economies with Brouhaha – a brewpub in Maleny in the centre of the Sunshine Coast hinterland. I am very thankful for Head Brewer, Matt Jancauskas giving me his time.

Brouhaha brews fresh local craft beer on site, and serve them along with restaurant food, that utilises hyper local ingredients (located within a 35 minute drive of the Brewery). Like all breweries, they produce a by-product in the process called spent grain.

Instead of disposing of this grain, Brouhaha gives it all to a local wagyu beef farmer situated 3 kms down the road. The spent grain source allows this small family farm to operate sustainably as they slowly build up their wagyu herd, which is a costly exercise. Maleny Wagyu then sell their cattle wholesale to a Maleny Butcher, Maple Street Meats. Brouhaha then purchases a whole animal for use in their restaurant, taking a nose to tail principle and serving everything from cured meats to curries. It’s a full circular loop. The butcher will also make sausages utilising the wagyu and Brouhaha’s milk stout.

The journey to achieve this circular loop wasn’t driven with cost in mind – it was based on Brouhaha’s strategy of being a local business in a small town who contributes actively to their community, and know their suppliers by first name. It is their point of difference. It just seemed the right thing to do in their mind.

Such close supplier and customer relationships have amplified their communication ability as a business and highlighted new opportunities through shared information and the shared goal of keeping it in the community. This has brought a resilience to the business during the COVID-19 interruption.

Working with their suppliers, Brouhaha has been able to pivot and offer heat and eat meals as part of a home delivery service, along with fruit & veg boxes, and of course craft beer. And whilst their first Maleny Wagyu animal they sourced was cost challenging and a steep learning curve in how to utilise it fully, they have got a lot more efficient and at the time of our chat, their next animal was potentially going to be discounted to the going market beef prices, based on their close relationship with the farmer.

The real advantage for Brouhaha is the community support they have won by focussing on circular loops within their local community, which is translating into continued purchase support through these tough economic times.

The two graphics I have included here analyse how well Brouhaha aligns to the circular economy principles and common business models (green is aligned and in place) – they are working on all 3 principles and have 3 of the 5 models contributing to their business.

Some other interesting circular improvements they have made include redesigning can rings to be compostable or recyclable, and also using excess produce harvest in flavouring their dishes and craft beers. In addition to this, they have a regular forum with other Sunshine Coast breweries where they can source shared resources if required.

So, what are the critical success factors I identified that makes Brouhaha circular?

  1. The business strategy focus is local. Actions are aligned to community, and point of difference products.

  2. All produce supplies are sourced hyper local (35mins), they are happy to have tiny suppliers.

  3. Customer/supplier relationships are first name basis, and high on communication to identify shared opportunities.

  4. Products are seasonal and evolving.

  5. They are actively learning new approaches to utilise full local resources

And finally, here are the key learnings that Head Brewer Matt shared about his circular economy journey at Brouhaha so far;

  1. Find YOUR point of difference. Learn how to contribute to local area cascading value by adding or utilising resources from the area.

  2. Community and consumer swings to support local businesses will continue to grow.

If you would like to conduct a Circular Economy review of your business, you can contact everfocus here and we would be happy to explore how we can help you. Through the circular economy, business can be more sustainable, and be better.


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Sunshine Coast QLD, Australia

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