Anheuser-Busch InBev‘s (ABI) 2012 Global Citizenship Report, released last week, shows that the brewing company made significant progress to meet its environmental targets. One of the targets the company met is reducing its water use 18.6 percent. The amount of water reduction achieved since 2009 is over 300 million hectoliters, or the amount of water needed to produce 25 billion cans of ABI products. Not bad for a company that relies so heavily on water to produce its products.
The water recovered from ABI’s production processes is called effluent. ABI refines it with bio-treatment systems so it can be returned back to the watershed or to a municipal treatment system and then returned to the watershed. About 73 percent of the water not used in its products was returned to local watersheds, with 62 percent having been treated and released, while 11 percent was returned to the atmosphere through evaporation. The company has built or upgraded 123 bio-treatment systems throughout its global operations since 2009. Last year alone, it built 31 bio-treatment systems.
ABI provided greener refrigeration options by switching to lower GHG-potential refrigerants and using LED lighting and energy management devices to lower energy use. ABI’s Western Europe Zone is leading the effort, and currently has over 10,000 units in place. Other zones are exploring implementing this initiative.
Other achievements highlighted in the report include reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy, increasing renewable energy use, slightly surpassing its recycling goals, and making its supply chain more sustainable.
Reducing GHG emissions and energy
The goal was to reduce GHG emissions and energy use by 10 percent per hectoliter of product by the end of 2012, with 2009 as a baseline. ABI surpassed those targets, reducing GHGs by almost 16 percent, and energy use by 12 percent. In China, ABI breweries reduced GHGs and energy use by almost 30 percent since 2009. The reduced energy use has saved ABI approximately $82 million since 2009.
- In 2012, renewable energy made up almost six percent of its global energy mix.
- ABI is one of the largest users of solar power in the U.S. brewing industry.
- Its operations in Brazil get almost 30 percent of its thermal energy needs from renewable bio-mass and bio-gas.
- By the end of 2012, 38 of its bio-treatment installations were equipped with bio-gas recovery and reuse capability, an increase from 27 percent in 2011.
- Slightly surpassed its recycling target of 99 percent by achieving a 99.2 percent rate in 2012.
- Almost all (135 out of 137) of its plants worldwide achieved zero-waste-to-landfill status as defined by the Zero Waste International Alliance as diverting at least 90 percent of all solid waste from landfills.
- Reduced the amount of waste sent to landfills by almost 55 percent from 2011 to 2012, even though its overall materials use slightly increased.
Making its supply chain more sustainable
Last year, ABI ioined SEDEX, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting ethical and responsibility businesses practices in global supply chains. This year, ABI plans to include over 1,000 of its suppliers in a SEDEX engagement process, and then use the data provided by its suppliers to help identify vulnerable areas in its supply chain.
Photo: Flickr user, benjamin schneider