The UK brewing sector says it has met its 2020 carbon emissions target eight years early, is on track to achieve its 2020 target for improved water efficiency and is making significant progress in reducing excess packaging and waste, as detailed in Brewing Green 2013, a new report published by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).
“The brewing industry has been working hard to minimise its environmental impact for decades,” said BBPA Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds. “These latest figures demonstrate that the sector is taking its environmental commitment seriously and delivering results.”
According to the report, carbon emissions fell by four percent in 2012, a reduction of 67 percent since 1990 and an energy efficiency improvement of 36 percent. Although declining volumes have been a factor, the efforts made by companies to reduce energy use and improve efficiencies have been crucial to achieving this reduction in emissions. Whilst this is an achievement to be proud of, the sector will not be complacent and targets will be reviewed during 2014 to set further challenging objectives for 2020.
“We recognise that we can do more to influence energy and water use in our supply chain — and we are also committed to reducing waste, particularly in packaging,” Simmonds added. “The brewing industry is being bold, open and progressive about its commitments. When it comes to an industry that is dedicated to improving our environmental performance, we want to ensure that it’s a case of ‘beer is best.’”
As part of the drive to improve energy efficiency through participation in the Government’s Climate Change Agreements, the sector undertook a review of all the technologies that were in place across the UK's breweries. It examined what could be implemented by 2020 and set the basis of the sector's target — a 13.6 percent improvement in energy efficiency compared to 2008.
There has been continued improvement in water efficiency within the sector, with UK brewers making an efficiency gain of 4 percent between 2011 and 2012. The BBPA says the UK's pint-per-pint water use is ahead of its European counterparts at 4.2 hl/hl and making good headway towards 2020 targets, thanks to the efforts of UK companies driving these changes. Since the start of 2011, over six million hectolitres (240 Olympic swimming pools!) of water have been saved at AB InBev’s Magor brewery, using water-saving technology including reverse osmosis. Over at Molson Coors’ Tadcaster brewery, water-saving drought response measures and further investment in additional reverse osmosis equipment has been made to save water and provide further security of water supply in the future.
The lightweighting of bottles and cans by brewers such as Adnams and AB InBev has helped companies make significant progress on reducing packaging. In addition, the industry has, as a whole, reduced the amount of waste disposed of by 83 percent since 2006, according to recent Environment Agency data.
Other initiatives include Carlsberg’s ‘Every Can Counts’ campaign, which aims to boost the recycling rates of drinks cans used outside the home. Members of the Carlsberg team have also been sent to work as Recycling Warriors at both the Leeds Festival and Latitude.
Not to be outdone, several brewers stateside have made remarkable achievements of their own this year: In September, MillerCoors announced that it had saved more than 270 million gallons of water throughout its agricultural supply chain in the last two years and achieved zero waste to landfill status in five of its eight breweries; and last month, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. became the first to receive the US Zero Waste Business Council’s platinum certification — the highest possible rating — for successfully diverting 99.8 percent of its waste.