Five miles by train same CO2 footprint as lifecycle of one beer

Adnams has become the first UK brewer to measure the carbon footprint of its entire range of bottled beers and has calculated that one bottle is equivalent to travelling 5.3 miles by train.

The Southwold-based brewer, who worked with Adapt Low Carbon Group at the University of East Anglia, measured the carbon dioxide equivalent emissions (CO2e) for the whole lifecycle of each beer, which covers everything from the growth of the hops and cereal, to the brewing and packaging of the beer, through to the distribution, retail, consumption and disposal of the bottle.

In addition to train journeys, results of the analysis allowed the brewer to compare its products to other forms of travel. Calculations showed that the CO2 footprint of an economy return flight from London to Sydney is the equivalent to 6245 bottles of Adnams beer, while an economy return flight from London to Glasgow is equivalent to 216 bottles.

Adnams environmental sustainability manager Ben Orchard said: “Understanding each product’s environmental impact is a complicated and intricate piece of work: it’s not as simple as just measuring electricity usage.

“Everything was considered, from growing the hops and cereal through to glass manufacture and label production. Now that we have this solid piece of ground work we can continue to produce results for all the other products made by Adnams,” he added.

In 2008, Adnams was the first UK brewer to launch a carbon-neutral beer, called East Green, which involved work on the way the beer was brewed and distributed.

Adnams retail management accountant Richard Carter said: “East Green beer was a celebration of everything Adnams had achieved to reduce its impact on the environment – the eco-distribution centre, the energy-efficient brewery and the light-weighting of the Adnams beer bottle.

“Five years on, we are now at the stage where we have calculated the carbon footprint of all our bottled beers. We believe that there is a growing interest and knowledge of these issues amongst Adnams drinkers.

“Whilst it’s reassuring to know how ‘green’ our beer is, the results of this assessment will help us to improve even further. For example, we discovered that using a blue bottle for our Spindrift beer was environmentally “expensive”. Swapping it for a brown one was an obvious change to make. In effect blue has become brown because it’s green!”

All results are the gCO2 equivalent emissions per 500ml equivalent bottle. Spindrift figure based on blue bottle and Innovation based on 500ml bottle (now packaged in 330ml)

Leigh Stringer

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