AB InBev says that since March, its Chinese flagship factory in Hanyang, a district of Wuhan, has been treating 4,000 tons of production water a day and supplying 1,000 to the community. The water is supplying at least 2,400 families living in Huiminyuan, Hanyang’s biggest government-subsidized housing development, where it is used for washrooms, landscaping and fire fighting.
Another 1,000 tons a day of recycled water are used in the brewery, and 2,000 tons are used by other companies in a nearby industrial park. Altogether the initiative will save the community and industrial park 1.5 million tons of fresh water a year, the company told Environmental Leader.
“This program is the world’s first involving a beer company providing social responsibility services to the community,” Wang Renrong, ABInBev’s vice president for Asia and Pacific, told the China Daily newspaper.
The company said it has invested 17.9 million yuan (US$2.8 million) since December 2010 in water-purifying equipment, in 3,000 meters of pipelines and in the costs of developing the project together with the local government.
Wang said AB InBev is considering expanding the project to the company’s 32 other Chinese factories. But he said these types of programs require substantial cooperation with government, to secure financial subsidies and cooperation with neighborhood committees.
The deputy secretary general of the China Alcoholic Industry Association, He Yong, said that 95 percent of Chinese beer companies recycle their wastewater. But he said this water is mostly discharged into bodies of water. “It’s a huge waste,” He said.
In March AB InBev reported that it cut its water use per volume of beer production by six percent in 2010. ABInBev China says that it reduced its own water use by 16.5 percent in 2010, with the Wuhan factory cutting water use by 38.4 percent. Wang says these reductions saved the company about 20 million yuan, which will go to charitable causes.
The company aims to reduce water use across all its beer and soft drinks facilities to an average of 3.5 hl/hl by 2012.
The company said in March that its 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.