MillerCoors raises a glass to water stewardship efforts

The second-largest brewing company in the US has reduced water consumption in its breweries, including those in water-stressed California, by 128m gallons last year, while greenhouse gas emissions and waste produced also tumbled.

According to MillerCoors latest sustainability report, the 128m gallon reduction in water use equates to a 2.1% reduction compared to 2014 levels. However, with a 2020 target to achieve a water to beer ratio of 3.0:1.0, work will need to be amplified to diminish the current 3.29:1.00 ratio.

MillerCoors’ water reduction efforts haven’t just remained in-house. With suppliers accounting for 90% of the company’s water footprint, MillerCoors has established a 2020 goal to restore a volume of water equal to the volume of water consumed by breweries located in water-stressed areas.

As of 2015, the company delivered a restorative benefit of approximately 137 million gallons of water, equating to more than 19% of the company’s local water resource. With MillerCoors operating a collection of breweries in California – which is currently consuming “insane” amounts of water – the company founded the California Water Action Collaborative.

The Collaborative was co-founded by NGOs and companies including General Mills and Nestle, and aims to find collaborative solutions to improve the region’s stressed watersheds. MillerCoors is already running a variety of water reuses systems within breweries to alleviate the situation, while 100% of the its key barley-growing suppliers are managed by digital data-sharing and expanded agricultural water conservation projects.

“At MillerCoors, we take our role as a responsible and high-quality corporate citizen very seriously,” the company’s chief executive Gavin Hattersley said. “Our sustainability commitment to responsibility, to our communities and to our environment is deeply woven into the fabric of our company. We don’t treat it as a nice to do, it’s a must do for MillerCoors.”

Waste and carbon

While MillerCoors has established a thriving water reduction plan, the company has also made in-roads to reducing waste and carbon footprints. In 2015, the company reduced emissions by 4.9% compared to the previous year, creating an overall reduction of 18% against a 2010 baseline.

MillerCoors has a 2020 goal to reduce emissions across its value chain by 25% per barrel of beer produced. With 2015 energy reductions translating to carbon reductions of 16%, the company has installed the largest brewery-owned solar array in the US to accelerate emission reductions. The 3.2MW array can generate enough electricity to brew more than seven million cases of beer annually.

In regards to waste reductions, MillerCoors has a 2020 target to achieve landfill-free status at all major manufacturing facilities – which must employ more than 75 people. Currently, the company has reached this status at eight major breweries and two major manufacturing facilities.

Overall the company recycles or reuses 99.99% of all brewery waste. When packaging is also taken into account, MillerCoors sent 732 tonnes of waste to landfill last year – compared to the 2,090 tonnes it produced – a 50% reduction compared to 2014. Since 2009, the amount of waste sent to landfill has fallen by 4,581 tonnes.

Matt Mace

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