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MillerCoors Achieves Lowest Water-to-Beer Ratio to Date

MillerCoors reduced overall water use across its eight major breweries in 2012 to 3.82 barrels of water per barrel of beer, a 6.1 percent decrease from 2011.

This is its lowest water-to-beer ratio to date, according to the brewing company.

It’s also an improvement over the previous year’s reduction: MillerCoors cut the amount of water used in the production of beer by just 1 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to the company’s 2011 sustainability report. In 2010 MillerCoors used 4.11 units of water to make one unit of beer. In 2011 this figure fell to 4.07:1.

The company set a goal in 2009 to reduce water use 15 percent by 2015 and is working to lower its water-to-beer ratio to 3.5: 1.

In 2012, MillerCoors’ Eden brewery exceeded this goal, ending the year with a 3.34:1 water-to-beer ratio, representing a 14 percent reduction from the previous year. MillerCoors says five of its breweries met or approached the 3.5:1 benchmark, but doesn’t name the other four.

According to the company, plant leadership and brewery employees were integral in the company’s 2012 water reduction efforts, raising awareness on water waste and pinpointing processes, like using a closed, clean-in-place system, to improve water efficiency. At the Eden brewery, for example, process engineers and brewery operators worked together to monitor water usage using short interval controls to analyze performance.

In 2011, MillerCoors began working with The Nature Conservancy to protect the watershed and improve habitats in Idaho’s barley-growing Silver Creek Valley. The company developed a watershed conservation plan at a barley farm that increased yields and saved almost 4.7 million hectoliters of water — about 9 percent of the farm’s annual water use — compared with 2010 levels.

In addition to water conservation, MillerCoors has stepped up efforts to reduce its energy use, reducing its overall energy use in 2012 to 145 megajoules/hectoliter, down nearly six percent from the previous year.

In 2010, Anheuser-Busch InBev announced its three-year environmental performance targets, which include a goal to reduce its water-to-beer ratio to 3.5. In 2011 AB InBev’s average water use was 3.71 hectoliters per hectoliter of product, down from 4.04 hl/hl in 2010, and a 13.7 percent reduction since 2009, according to its most recent sustainability report.

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