MillerCoors reduced water use by 6.1 percent to a record low 3.82 barrels needed per barrel of beer in 2012, according to the 2013 MillerCoors Sustainability Report, released yesterday.
By comparison, the nation’s second-largest brewer says some U.S. breweries use as much as 6.62 barrels of water to produce a single barrel of beer.
In the new report, Brewing for Good, MillerCoors — a joint venture between SAB Miller and Molson Coors, whose brands include Miller Lite, Miller Genuine Draft, Coors and Blue Moon in the U.S. — says the use of short interval controls throughout the brewing and packaging process has yielded significant water savings across its breweries.
The company also reported on efforts to assess its overall water footprint with an eye toward reducing water use in its agricultural supply chain. Teaming up with The Nature Conservancy, MillerCoors says it built its Showcase Barley Farm in Idaho’s Silver Creek Valley to pilot new water-saving farming techniques. Using these innovative techniques, the farm has saved more than 270 million gallons of water over two years. The company says it is continuing that work and expanding its efforts to water-stressed areas in Montana, Wyoming and Colorado.
The report also details MillerCoors' waste-reduction efforts. In June, the Golden brewery announced that, through employee-driven efforts, it achieved zero waste to landfill status, meaning it eliminated more than 135 tons of waste per month that was previously sent to landfills. This is a significant milestone for Golden, America’s largest single-site brewery. Five of the company’s eight major breweries are currently zero waste to landfill, and MillerCoors is actively working to achieve that goal at its remaining three large breweries.
MillerCoors also strengthened its commitment to responsibility in 2012, investing in new responsible marketing campaigns and expanding programs that encourage responsible behavior. Brewing for Good outlines the brewer’s other successes in sustainability, including:
- Celebrating 25 years of providing safe rides across the country through the Miller Lite Free Rides program.
- Expanding efforts to prevent underage access to alcohol to 18 new communities and 616 new retailers.
- Decreasing energy use by 5.4 percent, achieved in part by installing new brewery processes, including an efficient refrigeration system at some breweries.
- Increasing spending with minority- and women-owned businesses to $1.75 billion since 2009.
- Generating $14.2 million for nonprofit partners through employee and corporate fundraising initiatives.
“Our employees are the driving force behind our sustainability efforts,” said MillerCoors CEO Tom Long. “Whether it’s reducing water use in the brewery, finding ways to send zero waste to landfills or ensuring that our consumers get a safe ride home, our people are committed to doing the right thing.”
Last month, global beverage company Diageo, which produces popular beers such as Guinness, said it has reduced waste to landfill by 53.4 percent this year, contributing to an overall reduction of 77.9 percent against a 2007 baseline. The company is working towards zero waste to landfill targets at all of its sites by 2015.