CERO Cooperative, Inc.
CERO Cooperative, Inc.
Organic Waste Management Services

CERO COMPOSTING AT DEMOCRACY BREWING: A CONVERSATION WITH FOUNDER AND WORKER-OWNER JAMES RASZA

By - Alexander
08.01.2020 05:27 PM
A cornerstone of CERO’s identity, besides closing the food loop by recycling food waste at local farms, is our status as a worker-owned cooperative business. Worker-owned cooperatives differ from traditional businesses in that they are owned by the people who work at them, rather than by one or a few wealthy individuals or many shareholders. CERO believes that worker-owned cooperatives are an important part of building greater equity in our economic system. In this model, workers are able to share in any profits a company generates, as well as democratize the decision-making that impacts their daily work. When a business incorporates as a cooperative, its workers also agree to uphold values related to cooperation, mutual aid, and community care. Worker-owned cooperatives strive to support one another in order to build up the cooperative ecosystem in a region, enabling more workers to democratically control their workplaces and participate in profit sharing.

Democracy Brewing is one of the Boston-based, worker-owned cooperatives that, like CERO, has decided that worker-ownership and composting are very important, and thus CERO helped to institute a composting program at the brewery and restaurant since it opened. James Rasza and Jason Taggart founded the brewery in 2018, with the goals of making great beer and empowering the Boston community economically. The Democracy Brewing team passionately believes that ownership should be attainable to all workers. Democracy Brewing strives “to re-create the traditional public house, brew the best beer in Boston, pair it with tasty food, and serve it to you in combination with two great American ideals: democracy, and owning your own business.” CERO had the opportunity to sit down recently with James Rasza, co-founder and worker-owner at Democracy Brewing to discuss the impact of composting with CERO on Democracy Brewing’s operations.


In your own words, what does your business do? 
Democracy Brewing makes great beer and pairs it with tasty food in our large beer hall in downtown Boston. We have beers to go, live music and lots of fundraisers for community organizations.

How does your business generate most of its organic waste? How many pounds of waste per week? 
The brewery is where we generate most of our waste. We generate about 3000 lbs of recyclable organic material per week. Most of this organic material comes from spent grain or malt. We process this grain and malt to get the sugars out and ferment it to make beer. That’s where the majority of our waste comes from.

What were you doing with this organic matter before CERO?
We have always been composting with CERO.

How did you hear about CERO?
Not sure - somewhere in the worker co-op world. Democracy Brewing is also a worker-owned cooperative, meaning that workers have the opportunity to own part of the business and share in the profits the business generates. Worker-owned cooperatives also typically operate with a value system based in cooperation and community care that diverges from traditional business.

How has working with CERO impacted your operations?
We put the barrels out. CERO picks them up and cleans them out. We receive them fresh and ready to go for another day. Then we do it all again. It is simple.

Have there been challenges with working with CERO? 
No. When challenges arise -- like our street is blocked off, for example -- CERO is always willing to work with us to make pick-up happen. Sometimes this means getting creative. They are always willing to partner with us when unexpected things come up.

What do you think would be valuable for other breweries to know about composting?
Composting is an important way that breweries and restaurants can offset their impact on the environment.

Will you give a one-sentence review of CERO’s service?
Working with CERO has been fantastically easy. They are professional and always willing to be flexible and work with us when any inconveniences pop up. It feels great to work with a company that, like us, aims to be true to their mission and accomplish great things for the community.