Brown-Forman Corp., a producer and marketer of several leading beverage alcohol brands, has cut its energy use by 2.3 percent, although its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions increased by nine percent and water consumption rose by 4.5 percent, according to the firm’s second corporate responsibility report. Brands include Jack Daniel’s, Southern Comfort, Finlandia, Canadian Mist, Fetzer, Korbel, Gentleman Jack, el Jimador, Tequila Herradura, Sonoma-Cutrer, Chambord, Tuaca, Woodford Reserve, and Bonterra.
Environmental highlights include strategies for decreasing energy, water and emissions.
Brown-Forman, which gets its energy from five main sources – coal, waste wood, natural gas, fuel oil and electricity – reduced its energy consumption by 2.3 percent from 2007 to 2008 despite the addition of new processes at one facility, according to the report. The company attributes the decrease in total energy use to a combination of reduced production at some facilities and energy-efficiency improvements.
Some of those initiatives include the optimization of lighting, heating and cooling and the installation of a waste-to-energy process that will fuel a boiler at its tequila plant in Mexico with methane generated by a new wastewater treatment facility.
The company is also encouraging environmentally responsible travel, promoting video and web-based meeting technologies, and using an electronic “RideShare Board” to help employees share a leased hybrid vehicle for joint business travel.
Although Brown-Forman achieved significant reductions in business travel by using new communication technologies, and some facilities reduced their GHG emissions, total direct and indirect emissions increased by 9 percent between 2007 to 2008 due to increased capacity and the addition of new processes at one plant, according to the report. The company has not yet established a GHG reduction target.
Although water consumption increased by 4.5 percent from 2008 to 2009, the company continues to make significant investments in the protection of watersheds and rivers it uses. For example, Jack Daniel’s purchased several hundred acres of land to protect the Mulberry Creek and Cave Spring recharge area in Lynchburg, Tennessee, to ensure water quality is maintained, according to the report. The distillery is equipped with state-of-the-art water treatment systems for its discharge. The company also has storm water runoff protection measures at all its properties.
In addition, Fetzer Winery in California has been implementing riparian habitat restoration since 2000 and protecting water quality through active control of soil erosion, and the Fetzer Winery Sundial vineyard is certified by the Friendly Farming program. The program certifies properties that are managed in a way that restores fish and wildlife habitat, and improves water quality. Fetzer Vineyards is also switching to lighter weight glass to cut shipping costs and to be more environmentally friendly.
Brown-Forman is also transitioning to environmentally-preferable materials used in point-of-sale promotion and distribution. As an example, Finlandia and Southern Comfort now use organic materials in producing T-shirts, caps and cups, and Jack Daniel’s family of brands now uses recycled content materials for napkins and stir sticks. All secondary packaging is now recyclable.
Bonterra is using eco-friendly shopping bags and switched to Greenware tasting cups and recycled napkins, and Fetzer promotions include organic T-shirts, reusable shopping bags, organic canvas totes, wine stoppers made from sustainable wood, recycled content napkins, and Greenware tasting cups.
Promotional materials also can now be printed on demand. The company estimates that it’s saving approximately $300,000 a year on disposal costs alone, while reducing the use of materials.