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Molson Coors Sustainability Report: Water Use Up 3%, GHG Emissions Down 15%

Molson Coors has increased its water use by three percent and its solid waste generation by eight percent in 2009, compared to the previous year, according to the company’s 2010 online corporate responsibility report. The global brewer also decreased its energy use by nine percent and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 15 percent.

The brewer primarily attributes the water use increase to the company’s optimization of the MillerCoors network of multiple brands. However, Molson Coors said the optimization allowed for a reduction in CO2 emission resulting from lower route-to-market transportation costs that the joint venture between Molson Coors and SABMiller makes possible.

As an example, by reconfiguring railway shipments to increase the amount of beer each railcar carries, MillerCoors reduced the number of railcars needed by nearly 40 percent, an estimated savings of 3,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Molson Coors has set a global target to reduce water use 15 percent per unit of production and energy use 15 percent by the end of 2012, based on a 2008 baseline.

As part of its efforts to reduce water consumption, Molson Coors announced its lead sponsorship of CDP Water Disclosure. The brewer also plans to roll out a water awareness campaign in 2010 for all employees and introduce a company-wide water community volunteering month of action.

This is the first full year of data that Molson Coors is reporting for its U.S. operations MillerCoors. Molson Coors owns 42 percent of MillerCoors and accounts for 42 percent of its environmental impact in its yearly report.

Here are environmental highlights by region.

In the U.S., MillerCoors is reducing its energy use by investing in alternative energy and replacing and upgrading equipment and systems to improve energy efficiency.

MillerCoors is a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Climate Leaders Program and has set a target to reduce total energy use by 15 percent by 2015, using 2009 as a baseline year.

MillerCoors’ Texas brewery also is using biogas from wastewater in its boilers to cut natural gas consumption by 9.3 percent.

The Golden, Colorado, facility recycles or reuses an average of 95 percent of its solid waste, and sells about 3 million gallons of ethanol, a byproduct of the brewing process, to Colorado refineries. The company also sells 600 million pounds of wet cattle feed, a brewing byproduct.

MillerCoors released its own 2010 Sustainable Development report in July.

In Canada, Molson is committed to reduce energy use by setting targets and developing strategies to meet those targets, including an annual Brewery Energy Conservation Week and an ongoing program to encourage employees to conserve energy by turning off equipment and being aware of their use of water, electricity and natural gas.

On average, 98 percent of Molson Breweries bottles and 83 percent of cans are returned to points of sale by consumers. Returned materials are either reused or recycled, saving landfills from millions of pounds of glass, aluminum, and corrugated cardboard, according to the brewer.

Molson bottles are reused 15 to 20 times after which they are sold to glass manufacturers, and the loops holding the six-pack cans together are photodegradable and are designed to break so small animals won’t be caught in them. Molson also recycles its corrugated containers and aluminum cans.

Canada’s breweries collect and reuse carbon dioxide in the carbonation process. They also sell spent grains to local farmers for livestock feed or fertilizer.

In the UK, all MolsonCoors brands are packaged in a redesigned bottle, which reduces package weight by 13 percent.

MolsonCoors uses brewing by-products to fuel the boilers and sells spent grain and other waste products for cattle feed. The brewer also recycles scrap metal and major material waste, in addition to office paper and cardboard.

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