This article is part of a series of interviews with companies supporting the Rock the Green sustainability festival. Follow along here.
Welcome to our series of interviews with companies that are supporting the upcoming Rock the Green sustainability festival in Milwaukee on Sept. 17. We’re asking companies to talk about their own sustainability stories, as well as to explain why they’re supporting the event — one of the most sustainable festivals around.
This time we chatted with Kim Marotta who is the Director Sustainability for MillerCoors, a venerable Milwaukee brand and no stranger to big events. We wanted to know what sustainabilty means at MillerCoors and why the company would get involved in a festival dedicated to the subject.
TriplePundit: What's MillerCoors' definition of sustainability, and why is it important to you?
Kim Marotta: At MillerCoors, we define sustainability as making a positive and meaningful impact on the social, environmental and economic issues that affect our business, employees and other stakeholders.
It’s important to us because we know with great beer comes great responsibility. Since 2008, we've been committed to creating America’s best beer company. Such a lofty objective requires the dedication of everyone within the organization, from our leadership and our brewery employees to our farmers and suppliers. Together, we are committed to finding new and innovative ways to build on our heritage of brewing high quality beer more sustainably.
3p: What are the most important sustainability issues your company deals with?
KM: The sustainability issues that are most important to MillerCoors can be broken down into three of our sustainability pillars:
3p: Sustainable thinking is no longer just a "nice to have,” it's increasingly seen as a competitive advantage. Tell us how sustainable thinking is helping move you forward?
KM: We've always taken our role as a responsible corporate citizen very seriously. Our commitment to responsibility, to our communities and to our environment is deeply woven into the fabric of our company and it’s never been treated as a nice to do, it’s a must do for MillerCoors.
Our sustainable thinking has proven to help us innovate and build stronger ties within our workforce, suppliers and communities. Coors Brewing Company helped launch the recycling revolution by pioneering the aluminum can, and we have been building on that legacy ever since. We invented the American light lager category, helped transform the American craft beer movement and changed the way Americans drink beer. This commitment to sustainability, quality and innovation is what makes us leaders and it’s how we are creating America’s best beer company.
3p: Rock the Green, the concert, is all about going for zero waste. How has your company reduced waste across your operations? Has it paid off for you financially?
KM: MillerCoors proudly announced earlier this year that all of our major breweries and two major manufacturing facilities are now landfill-free. We currently reuse or recycle nearly 100 percent of our brewery waste. We try to eliminate excess as much as possible and with the waste we generate, we turn them into energy, compost and soil conditioner. We send the remaining byproducts to companies that use them for beneficial reuse.
Not only is diverting our waste from landfills good for the planet, it’s also good for our bottom line. By properly sorting and maintaining the integrity of our waste streams, we are able to send our aluminum, glass cullets, plastic and cardboard packaging to recycling facilities and sell our brewer’s grain and spent yeast to local farmers and pet food companies to be made into feed for animals. By finding new homes to repurpose our waste, we can create greater economic value while reducing our environmental impact.
3p: Surveys show that employees are happier and more productive when they're engaged with a company's sustainability strategies. How do you engage your staff to implement your sustainability plans?
KM: MillerCoors believes all our employees have a role to play in brewing a sustainable future. We empower our people – regardless of position, location or level - to be entrepreneurial and create solutions that can help us reach our sustainability goals.
A number of our initiatives or best practices have come from employees working on our brewery lines. One example is our landfill-free initiative, which was spearheaded by longtime MillerCoors technician Kelly Harris, who works at the Trenton, Ohio, brewery. In 2008, he developed a waste-reduction business plan and gained the support of his plant managers to implement the strategy. By 2010, Kelly led the Trenton brewery to become the company's first landfill-free facility, and the world's first zero-waste mega brewery. By 2013, Kelly helped four other breweries in Eden, N.C.; Irwindale, Calif.; Shenandoah, Va.; and Golden, Colo. achieve landfill-free status.
Our people are the key to all of our sustainability achievements. We believe all our employees have a voice and can provide essential insights that can help us meet our sustainability goals. That is why we invite employees from across the organization to participate in our Sustainability Leadership Council. By leveraging key learnings and the passion of our people to brew beer more sustainably, we can continue to build upon our results and make a positive impact on our environment, our community and our world.
3p: In a nutshell, how will you be "rocking the green" in the coming 5 years?
KM: We have a very ambitious set of environmental goals we are trying to achieve by 2020, including:
We have made significant strides against our 2020 goals in the past year, and we will continue to bolster our efforts to brew a more sustainable future, sharing our passion with our communities and making a positive impact on the environment along the way.
For more information on MillerCoors sustainability commitment, please visit our website at http://www.millercoors.com/sustainability.
Nick Aster is the founder of TriplePundit.
TriplePundit.com has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place. It was acquired in 2017 by 3BLMedia, the leading news distribution and content marketing company focused on niche topics including sustainability, health, energy, education, philanthropy, community and other social and environmental topics.
Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He also worked for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.
Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.