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AB InBev Cut Water Use 19 Percent

Anheuser-Busch InBev has achieved its three-year environmental targets on water, energy, carbon emissions and recycling for its beer and soft drink operations, hitting its goal of using 3.5 hectoliters of water per hectoliter of production, the company said.

The savings, which represents an 18.6 percent reduction in water use across its global operations against a 2009 baseline, is equivalent to the amount of water needed to produce about 25 billion cans of products, which is about 20 percent of one year’s production, the company said.

The company also decreased energy use per hectoliter in breweries and soft drink facilities worldwide by 12 percent against a 2009 baseline, surpassing its target of a 10 percent reduction.

Other goals met against a 2009 baseline include a 10 percent cut in carbon emissions – far surpassed, with an actual 15.7 percent reduction – and increasing the recycling rate to 99 percent for solid waste and byproducts. AB InBev’s latest recorded recycling rate is 99.2 percent.

The company said it has identified new revenue streams, generated savings and involved more employees and partners in its sustainability initiatives. For instance, the company was able to generate about $420 million in revenues globally by finding beneficial uses for recyclable materials from its processes. Efforts to use water and energy more efficiently also saved the company $92 million.

AB InBev was able to meet its goals through a mix of strategies, including applying new management and technology systems. By the end of last year, 95 percent of AB InBev’s brewery and soft drink facilities were certified as adhering to Voyager Plant Optimization (VPO), a management system that includes standards for sustainability, operations, quality and safety.

AB InBev operations around the world contributed to the progress. For example, a new bottle for the Beck’s and Beck’s Blue brands, introduced in the UK, is 11 percent lighter than its predecessor and is expected to reduce carbon emissions by almost 2,000 metric tons in 2013. In Brazil, the company developed a 100 percent recycled PET bottle for its Guaraná Antarctica soft drink. The bottle uses 70 percent less energy and generates 70 percent fewer carbon emissions to manufacture.

Last month, rival MillerCoors said it 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.

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