MillerCoors Sustainability Report: Cuts Water Use 1%, Meets Waste Goal

by | Aug 10, 2012

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MillerCoors reduced the amount of water used in the production of beer by 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, or a ratio of 4.11:1. In 2011 this figure fell to 4.07:1. By 2015 MillerCoors hopes to achieve a water-to-beer ratio of 3.50:1.

The company’s Fort Worth Brewery performed best in 2011 with a 3.53:1 water-to-beer ratio. Five of MillerCoors’ eight major breweries achieved water-to-beer ratios under 4.00:1. The industry average is 5.00:1, the company says.

In 2011, MillerCoors completed construction of a new $5 million cooling system at its Milwaukee brewery. The new system uses recirculated water rather than fresh incoming water, saving 100 million gallons annually — enough to fill 1 billion 12-ounce cans.

The company’s Golden, Colo., brewery last year substituted bleach for hot water in some of its sterilization processes. This move speeds up the sterilization process and more efficiently uses steam, electricity and water, and reduced water usage by 2 percent for every barrel of beer processed through the three transfer lines converted. Golden Brewery is planning to convert additional lines to this process in 2012, the report says.

The company has reduced the amount of waste it sends to landfill by 55 percent since 2008, surpassing its revised 2015 goal by 5 percentage points four years early. In 2010 the company had reduced the amount of waste it sent to landfill by 32 percent over 2008 levels. This achievement meant that the company had exceeded its initial 2015 goal of a 15 percent reduction over 2008 levels. MillerCoors is now investigating a new waste target.

In 2011, the company’s Eden, N.C., brewery established a new recycling center with a cardboard baler, aluminum baler and recycling containers. At year-end, the Eden facility reduced, reused or recycled 92 percent of its waste — and is committed to ultimately achieving zero-waste-to-landfill, the report says.

A change in the way recyclables are loaded onto trucks at the company’s Trenton, N.J., facility increased the tonnage from 8.3 to almost 12 tons per trailer, removing 11 trailers from the road and saving more than 2,300 truck miles in 2011, the report says.

The company reuses or recycles 99 percent of waste that emanates directly from the brewing process. Waste is turned into energy, compost and soil conditioner for the brewer’s own use. The remaining by-products are sent to companies that use them for other purposes. For instance, by-products from the Albany, N.Y., brewery are used to fertilize crops on an on-site 600-acre hay farm and 700-acre tree farm.

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