Heineken granted water self-supply licence for UK operations

Brewer Heineken has been granted a self-supply licence to deliver its own water and wastewater services for all of its UK operations, in a move it claims will bolster its water stewardship efforts.

After partnering with water management firm Waterscan earlier this year to apply for a water and sewerage licence from regulator Ofwat, Heineken revealed on Monday (26 November) that its application had been successful.

Under the licence, Waterscan will oversee responsibility for water retail functions including meter reading, wholesaler management and finding further water efficiency savings.

Heineken, meanwhile, hopes to reap benefits in terms of cost savings and a reduced water footprint, building on the progress it has already made towards the goals outlined in its “Brewing a Better World” sustainability strategy.

The strategy notably includes a target to reduce average water consumption in breweries to 3.5 hl/hl, falling to 3.3 hl/hl in water-stressed areas by 2020.

Elsewhere, the company moved to launch a tap system technology that minimises waste when beer and cider are poured in pubs and bars. Called SmartDispense, the system has prevented 72 million pints of water from being wasted since 2013.

“Water is a critical resource for our business, used from growing crops to being a vital ingredient in our ciders and beers,” Heineken UK’s director of corporate affairs David Paterson said.

“Through our innovation programmes, we’ve been able to help the hospitality industry prevent 72 million pints of water going down the drain when serving the perfect pint -but we know more can be done.

“A self-supply license will allow us to monitor our water use across our supply chain more effectively and help drive through further efficiencies from barley to bar.”

Heineken operates breweries, cider plants and offices in Edinburgh, Tadcaster, Manchester, London, Hereford and Ledbury, employing 2,300 people nationwide.

Water savings

In related news, Ofwat has approved self-supply licences for pub chain Stonegate and industrial laundry firm Berendsen this week, with both companies set to receive support from Waterscan for retail functions.

Elsewhere, telecoms giant BT has this month applied for a licence, claiming that a move to self-supply would enable the company to “build on the works already undertaken” and “develop its partnership with Waterscan whilst driving cost and consumption control, particularly through a single electronic bill”.

More widely, more than 36,000 businesses have reportedly switched water retailer since the market opened to competition, with around 60% of those switches coming from low-water-users. 

Among the businesses to have been granted self-supply licenses in recent times are pub chain Greene King, hospitality giant Whitbread and beverage firm Coca-Cola.

Greene King revealed this year that the switch to self-supply had enabled the company to reduce its water footprint by more than 140,000m3 since April 2017. Daily, Greene King has realised 384.32m3 in consumption savings – the equivalent of 676,313 pints.

Sarah George

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