Water Use Falls at SABMiller, But Steady at MillerCoors

by | Jul 15, 2011

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SABMiller cut both its relative water consumption and fossil fuel emissions by three percent and recycled 96 percent of its waste last year, according to the company’s sustainable development report.

But in its own sustainability report, U.S. arm MillerCoors shows that it has not reduced its water use since 2008.

SABMiller’s water consumption rose one percent, from 722 million to 731 million hl water, and water to beer ratio fell by two percent, from 4.3 to 4.2 hl of water per hl of beer. Globally the company has improved its water efficiency by eight percent since 2008, when it set a target to reduce water consumption per hectoliter of beer by 25 perccent by 2015, the parent company’s report said.

In its sustainable development report., MillerCoors said that its water-to-beer ratio in 2010 was 4.1:1, the same as its 2008 baseline. The company has a goal of reducing the ratio by 15 percent to 3.5:1 by 2015.

However, MillerCoors reported that at three breweries, it approached or met its 2015 water efficiency ratio goal of 3.5 barrels of water per barrel of beer.

Last year MillerCoors reported that it did not meet its previous goal to reduce water use to a 3.96:1.00 water-to-beer ratio.

In September 2010, SABMiller published detailed water footprints showing the amount of water used to produce beer throughout the value chain in Peru, Ukraine, Tanzania and South Africa – all countries at risk of significant water stress. The results varied between 61 liters of water per liter of beer in Peru to 180 liters per liter in Tanzania. Crop cultivation accounted for over 90 percent of water consumed in the four countries.

Globally, SABMiller’s CO2e emissions from fossil fuel energy used on site fell three percent in relative terms in 2010, from 14.2 to 13.8 kg CO2e per hl beer, and in absolute terms held steady at 2.4 million tons. The company is aiming to reduce fossil fuel emissions by 50 percent by 2020, a goal set in 2008.

Total energy consumption rose by four percent, from 23 to 24 terajoules, equivalent to 138 megajoules per hectoliter of beer produced. But efficiency improved by one percent.

At MillerCoors, energy efficiency remained steady from 2008 levels at 151 MJ/hl. The U.S. arm is looking to reduce this to 128 MJ/hl by 2015.

Last year SABMiller maintained its recycling rate of 96 percent. Waste produced rose 11 percent, from 2.8 million to 3.1 million tons, and waste recycled also rose 11 percent, from 2.7 million to 3.0 million tons.

During 2010 MillerCoors achieved zero waste-to-landfill at four of its eight major breweries and reduced packaging materials almost 6.5 million tons, mostly by reducing the thickness of cardboard used in 24-pack cases of 12 oz. cans, across all brands.

The global company says its  soft drinks business in South Africa has reduced the weight of its 500ml soft drink PET plastic bottles from 28 grams to 22 grams over the past year. This and other initiatives in the country have reduced the annual requirement for PET plastic resin by 11 percent, saving over 3,000 tons.

Likewise, SABMiller’s Birra Peroni operations in Italy have saved almost 750 tons of glass a year by switching from a 310 gram to a 185 gram 330 milliliter bottle for its Peroni Gran Riserva brand.

In Peru, the company’s Backus brand reduced the weight of bottle crowns by making them 0.06mm thinner (from 0.23mm to 0.17mm) saving an estimated 950 tons of material each year. This measure could save over US$5 million if rolled out across Latin America, the company said.

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