Brewing industry hits 2020 carbon target eight years early

The UK brewing sector has achieved its 2020 carbon emissions target eight years early and is on track to meet its 2020 target for improved water efficiency.

Carbon emissions in the brewing sector fell by 4% in 2012 - a reduction of 67% since 1990

Carbon emissions in the brewing sector fell by 4% in 2012 - a reduction of 67% since 1990

In a new report published by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), Brewing Green 2013, carbon emissions in the sector fell by 4% in 2012 - a reduction of 67% since 1990 and an energy efficiency improvement of 36%.

The reductions are largely down to companies effectively carrying out reductions in energy use. However, declining sales volumes in the UK and Western Europe have also been a contributing factor.

For example, Heineken's second-quarter beer volume declined 7% in Western Europe and 6% in Central and Eastern Europe, while for Carlsberg, quarterly beer volume fell 6% in Western Europe.

Despite this, sustainability programmes, such as Heineken's Brewing a Better Future and Carlsberg's CSR programme, are having a significant bearing on the sector's environmental impact. In 2012, Carlsberg's CO2 emissions per hectolitre (hl) of product produced was 7.3 kg/hl, which is 16.8% less than in 2011 (8.8 kg/hl).

There has also been continued improvement in water efficiency within the sector, with UK brewers making a water saving efficiency gain of 4% between 2011 and 2012.

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.

Since the start of 2011, more than six million hectolitres, or the equivalent to 240 Olympic swimming pools, of water have been saved at AB Inbev's Magor brewery using water saving technology, including reverse osmosis.

At fellow brewer 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.

In addition, the lightweighting of bottles and cans has helped companies make significant progress on reducing packaging. The industry has reduced the amount of waste disposed of by 83% since 2006, according to recent Environment Agency data.

BBPA chief executive, Brigid Simmonds said: "The brewing industry has been working hard to minimise its environmental impact for decades. These latest figures demonstrate that the sector is taking its environmental commitment seriously and delivering results.

"The latest fall in carbon emissions, the increasingly efficient use of water and the reduction in waste and packaging are all achievements to be proud of. Companies are taking the initiative and taking proactive business decisions to ensure that their brewing processes are as green as possible," said Simmonds.

Improving efficiency further, many of the major brands are incorporating innovative brewing techniques and turning to renewable technologies to reduce their use of fossil fuels. In April, Heineken announced that one of its Dutch beer company's is to brew all of its products using solar power as the sole source of energy.

Wieckse, a wheat beer market leader in the Netherlands, installed 3632 solar panels on the roof of its brewery in 's-Hertogenbosch, southern Netherlands.

Leigh Stringer


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