SABMiller has reduced both its water use and CO2 emissions by four percent per hectoliter of beer produced compared to the previous year, according to the company’s 2010 Sustainable Development Report. The brewer also cut its energy use per hectoliter of beer produced by 3 percent compared to the previous year. Full performance scores for each of its operations by region are available at www.sabmiller.com/sam.
Here are several environmental highlights in the report.
Because the brewing process accounts for the majority of SABMiller’s water consumption in a brewery, the company is evaluating and using new processes to reduce water consumption, including recycling it in secondary processes such as cooling and cleaning. Last year, the company used 722 million hectoliters to produce its beer.
The company has set a target to reduce its water use per hectoliter of beer by 25 percent between 2008 and 2015, which equals to an average water consumption of 3.5 hectoliters per hectoliter of beer. Over the past year, the average figure was 4.3 hectoliters, a 4 percent improvement on the previous 12 months.
Many of the company’s breweries have made progress in reducing their water consumption. As an example, Accra Breweries Limited (ABL) in Ghana has installed a new cooling tower at the brewery, which uses recycled water for cooling instead of fresh water, and is expected to reduce consumption by 10 percent.
SABMiller also established the Water Futures partnership with WWF to protect watersheds. The company has plans to invest in three new effluent treatment systems in Uganda, Tanzania and Panama and to upgrade two effluent treatment plants in Ecuador and Colombia.
To reduce energy use, the company also is testing new technology and processes. As an example, SABMiller’s business in Hungary is using absorption cooling to use waste heat from the brewing process to reduce the refrigeration load on the traditional, electricity-intensive, ammonia refrigeration process.
The company also continues to roll out its new energy saver tool to enable its breweries to analyze the way they use energy and identify opportunities to reduce consumption.
SABMiller aims to reduce fossil fuel emissions from its onsite energy use by 50 percent per hectoliter of beer between 2008 and 2020.
Last year, SABMiller used 23 Terajoules (TJ) of energy, equivalent to 139 MJ per hectoliter of beer produced, a 3 percent improvement on the previous year. This equals 2.3 million tonnes of CO2 or 13.3 kg CO2e per hectoliter of beer produced, which is an improvement of 4 percent compared to the previous year.
The company attributes the greater reduction in emissions compared to energy to its shift to cleaner energy. Renewable energy sources supply three percent of the company’s energy demand, which the company plans to increase.
SABMiller also has a policy to only purchase new refrigeration equipment that is CFC-free and to phase out plant equipment containing CFCs, which contribute to climate change and ozone depletion, according to the company.
The company rolled out 11,000 energy-efficient fridges during the year, which is expected to save 500 tonnes of CO2 a year.
SABMiller also instituted a new packaging sustainability strategy, which aims to ensure that all of its companies adopt a consistent and sustainable approach to the design, use, reuse and disposal of all the packaging they use.
The company is also ‘light-weighting’ existing product packaging by reducing the amount of material used. Most recently, SABMiller adapted its easy-to-open beer can into a drinking cup when the top is removed as part of an effort to reduce waste at sporting events.
SABMiller recycled 96 percent of the 2.8 million tons of waste it generated last year. At MillerCoors, 99 percent of all brewery waste including glass, paperboard, plastics, metals and by-products is recycled or reused, up from 98 percent the previous year.
In a single year, MillerCoors reduced the total amount of waste sent to landfill by more than 20 percent and met its 2015 waste goal in 2009. In addition, three breweries at Elkton in Virginia, Trenton in Ohio, and Irwindale in California achieved their goals of zero waste to landfill during this past year.
As an example, the Elkton brewery recycles or reuses 99.6 percent of its wastes, while the remaining 0.4 percent goes to the waste-to-energy facility.
SABMiller’s CO2 Emissions: