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Molson Coors Sustainability Report Details Successes, Failures, Next Steps in Improving Its 'Beer Print'

On Tuesday, Molson Coors Brewing Company released its 2013 Corporate Responsibility Report, covering the company’s performance in five key areas: Governance and Ethics, Alcohol Responsibility, Environmental Stewardship, Employees and Community and Responsible Sourcing.

The report highlights significant savings of energy, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water consumption and waste to landfill based on targets the company set in 2008.

“In 2012 Molson Coors saw Our Beer Print performance — our impacts on our communities, people and the environment — recognized as best in class when we were named the beverage industry sector leader on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index,” said president and CEO Peter Swinburn. “Improving Our Beer Print has already positively affected our bottom line: From 2008 through 2012, we saved $10 million per year due to lower use of energy and water, reduced waste fees and taxes, and sales of materials that would otherwise have been disposed. Our targeted environmental performance through 2020 will result in additional savings of $16 million per year.”

While the company saw overall reductions, its water and energy intensity targets were not met due to lower than expected volumes. Last year, the company announced ambitious new long-term targets to achieve further reductions: 25 percent in energy intensity, 15 percent in GHG intensity and 20 percent in water per unit of production by the year 2020.

Building corporate responsibility into brands

In early 2013, Molson Coors adopted a 2015 goal for global corporate responsibility, ‘to improve Our Beer Print to create a competitive advantage for our brands and customers.’ The company’s focus has evolved from behind-the-scenes operations management to include embedding corporate responsibility in the brands themselves and how they go to market.

“As a consumer products company, we anticipate and respond to the changing attitudes and preferences of consumers. We will further succeed when we inspire consumers with our quality products produced sustainably and aligned with their social and environmental values,” said Bart Alexander, chief corporate responsibility officer for Molson Coors. “By building stronger partnerships with retailers to collectively advance responsibility, as well as by mobilizing consumers directly through our own efforts, improving Our Beer Print will continue to contribute to the company’s growth.”

Highlights of Molson Coors’ environmental stewardship performance in 2012 include commendable achievements in the areas of:

  • GHG Emissions: Achieved a 24 percent reduction in carbon emissions intensity since 2008 (equivalent to a 25 percent reduction in absolute carbon emissions). The company surpassed its 2012 target in 2010 as a result of focused efforts to invest in GHG reduction, energy efficiency and process improvements.
  • Waste: Accomplished zero waste to landfill in their UK-based operations by the end of 2012. Between 2008 and 2012 its UK operations diverted 5,697 tonnes of waste away from landfill and avoided $500,000 in landfill taxes. The company missed its global landfill-diversion target, sending 1.9 percent more waste to landfill in 2012 than in 2011. This was a stretch target and Molson Coors will continue to challenge its operations in this area through the development of a long-term global waste strategy.
  • Water: At year-end 2012, water intensity was seven percent lower than in 2008. Since 2008, the company reduced total water consumption by over 12.6 million hectoliters, equivalent to 504 Olympic swimming pools. Lower than expected volumes made it difficult to reduce water intensity and caused the company to fall short of its 2012 target of 15 percent reduction.
  • Energy: The company’s 2012 energy intensity was 11 percent lower than in 2008. Since 2008, the company reduced total energy consumption by over 370 million megajoules. Lower than expected volumes made it difficult to reduce energy intensity and Molson Coors did not meet the 2012 energy reduction target of 15 percent.
  • Packaging: Set a new global goal to reduce packaging weight by four percent by 2015 from a 2012 baseline.

Alexander says Molson Coors remains committed to achieving and exceeding its goals in all five key areas.

"Clearly we want to sustain the progress we have made across the corporate responsibility spectrum,” he said in an email. “We are proud of what we have accomplished, and know we have more to do every year.

“Our work so far means we can now add a commercial focus to our effort. For a beer company, that involves building partnerships with our retail customers and consumers through our brands and innovation. We will measure our success by the quality of our relationships with customers and the health of our brands.”

He added, “Three principles will continue to guide us:

  • Engage our people and our partners to improve Our Beer Print.
  • Sustain ownership throughout the organization — from the Board of Directors and Executive Leadership Team to the sales force and shop floor.
  • Be honest with ourselves and our stakeholders, learning from both our successes and failures."

Earlier this month, Molson Coors earned a 2degrees Sustainability Champion Award for its water stewardship campaign, “Every Drop, Every Ripple.”

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