Heineken slashes key footprints as production volume surges

International brewer Heineken has revealed reductions in both water consumption and carbon emissions, despite a growth in production, as it drives towards its 2020 sustainability targets.

Heineken has surpassed milestones set for 2015 in five key areas such as sustainable sourcing and reducing C02 emissions from fridges, but the company still faces challenges on emissions reductions from distribution in the Americas region.

Heineken chief executive Jean-François van Boxmeer said: “2015 was a pivotal year for the world’s sustainability agenda. Events such as COP21 and the introduction of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals provide additional input for “Brewing a Better World”, our approach to creating a sustainable business. We are confident of the progress we have made in 2015 though we are aware of the challenges ahead.” 

Green cooling

The company hit its 2020 commitment to reduce specific water consumption in breweries by 25%, and more than 56% of its total production volume for this year is already below the 2020 target of 3.5 hectolitres of water per hectolitre of product. In total, water consumption has been reduced by 26% against a 2008 baseline.

There were positive advancements in overall carbon footprint reductions, as CO2 emissions in production decreased in both relative and absolute terms. Energy-saving initiatives and an increased use of renewable energy sources have enabled absolute emissions to fall by 8% despite a 43% increase in production volumes. A 36% relative reduction in CO2 emissions was achieved in production compared with the 2008 baseline year.

A decrease in total carbon footprint was facilitated by a substantial fall in emissions from cooling. Green fridges have steadily replaced conventional cooling systems – indeed, 100% of the 115,000 fridges that Heineken purchased in 2015 were ‘green’ appliances. The CO2 emissions of these fridges are 45% lower compared with the fridges from baseline year 2010.

Heneiken reported progress on its supply chain last year, exceeding 2015 targets in its sustainable sourcing of barley (21%), hops (53%), and apples (71%).

However, targets were not achieved in every focus area. Demand growth in Mexico – Heineken’s biggest market – has increased the production footprint challenge in the Americas, resulting in a transport emissions increase of 6.6%.

Neighbourly love

The generally positive results in the 2015 Sustainability Report demonstrate an increasingly holistic sustainability strategy pursued by Heineken in recent years. 

Last month the brewer announced that it had partnered with the Neighbourly social media platform to support its responsible business approach and deliver positive local impacts through its seven sites across the UK.

Heineken revealed last year it was teaming up with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) to accelerate the deployment of water stewardship initiatives in countries and regions classified as ‘water-scarce’.

Speaking exclusively to edie towards the end of last year, Heineken director of global sustainable development Michael Dickstein explained that the need for partnerships on an international, national and local level, is therefore one of the driving forces of the company’s environmental strategy.”It’s not about putting a big bag of money on the table – it’s about sharing knowledge and experience, and making sure that our partners and us have a complementary agenda,” Dickstein said at the time.

“The challenges we are facing are so comprehensive that it’s difficult for one player to achieve the solution for everything. We have an extended agenda and by working together we want to achieve things that we can’t do alone.”

George Ogleby

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