The Belgian drinks maker, which owns Budweiser, Michelob and over 200 other beer brands, cut global water usage from 4.3 hectoliters (hl) of water per hl of beer production in 2009 to 4.04 hl water/hl production in 2010.
The previous year, the company reported that it reduced water use by 8.5 percent. The company said it has saved enough water since 2007 to fill more than 16,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
AB InBev’s water reductions put it on track towards a goal of an 18.6% reduction in water intensity between 2009 and 2012, to 3.5 hl water/hl production, the company said.
Initiatives used to reduce water usage over the past year include a mix of engineering and operational improvements, along with an awareness campaign and staff behavioral changes, the company said. Water efficiency varied by facility, with the company’s Cartersville, Ga., plant achieving 3.04 hl water/hl production in 2010, making it the most water-efficient brewery in the firm.
The company’s Wernigerode brewery in Germany has also already achieved the 2012 goal, while the Ningbo brewery in China is on track to achieve the 2012 water usage target one year ahead of schedule through such methods as narrowing bottle-washing nozzle diameters and reusing reclaimed water for general cleaning. The Ningbo brewery also has thoroughly integrated utilities planning into the overall production scheduling process, AB InBev said.
Other plants have found efficiencies by employing “water sheriffs”, who look for and fix leakages, and by analyzing the standard process for shutdown and restart of equipment.
In its last sustainability report, rival MillerCoors said that it failed to meet a goal to reduce water use to a 3.96:1.00 water-to-beer ratio.
AB InBev’s water goal is one of several that the firm set out as part of its “Better World” commitment. The company said it is also making steady progress towards its goal of reducing energy use by ten percent between 2009 and 2012, and has achieved a 3.7 decrease in energy use per hl of production between 2009 and 2010.
AB InBev also aims to reduce its carbon emissions per hl of production by 10 percent by the end of 2012, and the company says it is “well on its way”. Another 2012 goal is to reach a 99 percent recycling rate by eliminating material losses, improving packaging efficiencies and determining cost-effective alternate uses for raw materials and byproducts.
The company is the top beverage firm in climate commitment rankings by Climate Counts.
“Announcing our global goals last year was an important milestone for Anheuser-Busch InBev. Setting these aggressive, measurable targets brought our Better World strategy to life and has united our colleagues around the world in pursuit of a common purpose,” AB InBev CEO Carlos Brito said.