Carling brewer goes beyond zero waste with AD drive

Britain's biggest brewer Molson Coors is on track to reach its zero waste to landfill target by the end of the year and is now looking to close the loop through energy recovery.

The company’s landfill diversion figure currently stands at 99.2% – since 2007 it has halved the amount of waste sent to landfill and now reuses or recycles almost 48,000 tonnes of arisings in products such as Marmite.

The next step for Molson, which brews and sells premium beer brands such as Carling and Staropramen, is to generate biogas from its waste products through the use of anaerobic digestion (AD).

The company has invested £1m to build an AD plant at Sharp’s Brewery in Cornwall where some of its liquid waste will be sent to provide heat and power at the site.

This forms part of a wider £5m investment programme to ensure that the brewery can manage demand and sustain its outstanding growth. In turn, it will reduce the amount of liquid waste being sent to the local water treatment plant by 80%.

Molson is also looking to reduce energy and water usage by 15% by the end of this year. Current progress is “positive” according to the company – in the UK it has reported a further 2% decrease in water and electricity use in 2011 and a 21% improvement in carbon emission efficiency since the 2008 baseline, which is a 5.4% improvement since 2010.

To meet the target, Molson has built a waste water treatment plant at its brewery in Tadcaster, Yorkshire. The biogas produced from the facility has replaced around 20% of the natural gas used by the brewery, saving money through reduced gas bills.

The brewer has also engineered new lightweight film wrap packaging for its small pack Carling product, replacing traditional cardboard.

A £6.3m investment enabled the weight of secondary packaging to be reduced by 63% and also achieved a carbon emission reduction of 4%.

Molson Coors is now looking to build on its achievements and has announced global environmental targets including a 25% improvement on energy efficiency and 20% improvement on water efficiency by 2020 (based on a 2011 baseline) with the UK contributing 22% on energy and 15% on water.

The company’s supply chain director Lee Finney said: “We are well on course to achieve zero landfill waste this year, but we are not about to rest on our laurels.

“We understand the need to build on this success which is why we are announcing ambitious targets for 2020 in water and energy efficiency across our whole supply chain.”

Maxine Perella

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