Monks go green

Monastery producing 10m litres a year invents plant-based recycling system.   The Cistercian monastery on the Dutch-Belgian border is the first brewery in western Europe to construct a plant-based water filtration system that avoids the current waste of seven litres of water for every litre of beer produced.

In a large greenhouse, 70 species, including ferns and other sub-tropical plants, sit above bins of waste water that flows through pipes from the brewery. The interaction of the micro-organisms on the plants’ roots and the bacteria in the water purifies it for reuse.

“We are praying seven times a day to praise the Lord for his creation, but we were not working in the right way to stop pollution,” said Father Isaac of his brewery. “We have had to translate our faith into sustainability.”…

It is hoped that the new system, which has been officially consecrated, will purify around 450,000 litres every seven hours when fully operational without any need for human intervention.

The abbey in the Dutch village of Berkel-Enschot, in Noord-Brabant, also produces 43% of its electricity from solar panels, and the monks – who also make a popular cheese – drive electric cars when they need to leave the monastery.

The abbey plans to further reduce the monks’ ecological footprint in a less palatable way. “We want to be able to purify human waste water to turn it into drinking water,” said Father Isaac. “I feel a big responsibility for the next generation, and we need to ensure they inherit a cleaner world.”

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