World’s largest brewer targets net-zero value chain by 2040

Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), the world's largest brewer, has outlined plans to deliver five net-zero breweries in Europe by 2028 and to reach net-zero for its global value chain by 2040.

World’s largest brewer targets net-zero value chain by 2040

Pictured: AB InBev's brewery in Magor

The company announced today (10 December) that it has almost reached its 2025 ambition to reduce direct (Scope 1) and power-related (Scope 2) by 25%, against a 2017 baseline. On indirect (Scope 3) emissions, a reduction of more than 10%, in intensity terms, has been delivered since 2017.

As AB InBev, it has built upon this target with a new long-term vision to deliver net-zero, globally, across all emissions scopes by 2040.

AB InBev believes that its European business will likely achieve net-zero sooner, leading the overall emissions reductions of its portfolio. Greenhouse gases from the Magor and Samlesbury breweries in the UK will be brought to net-zero by 2026, the firm has pledged, followed by the Leuven, Jupille and Bremen breweries in Belgium and Germany in 2028.

Emissions will be reduced in line with science-based targets before offsetting is used, AB InBev has maintained. The company has identified 29 technologies to assist with the net-zero transition, including measures to improve resource and energy efficiency, increase self-generated renewable electricity and decarbonise heating and transportation.

To this latter point, the firm’s UK business Budweiser Brewing Group UKI is working with Protium to explore the deployment of green hydrogen generation, storage and use at the Magor brewery in South Wales, one of the largest breweries in the UK. This project envisages hydrogen production facilities that will include a battery, hydrogen storage unit and a hydrogen refuelling station used for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs).

“The strategy to support the ambition to achieve net zero in Europe is built primarily on switching fuel sources and increasing energy efficiency,” AB InBev said in a statement. The firm had already committed to switching to 100% renewable electricity for operations by 2025.

Many of the technologies needed to decarbonise the business’s operations and value chain will likely be supported by its $10.1bn corporate sustainability-linked loan, which was badged as the largest of its kind to date when it launched in February.

In announcing the new net-zero target, AB InBev, which makes beers including Corona and Leffe as well as Budweiser, has updated its global company purpose. It is now “we dream big to create a future with more cheers”. It was previously “bringing people together for a better world”.

AB InBev Europe’s vice president for procurement and sustainability, Erik Novaes, said the announcement is a “major moment” for the company, demonstrating an “unwavering ambition” around environmental sustainability.

Many companies have been setting or fleshing out net-zero commitments this year. According to Net-Zero Tracker, the share of revenues from listed firms with targets of some kind has increased almost four-fold within a year. There is now broad recognition of the need to move from long-term target-setting to delivery plans for the immediate and medium-term.

Sarah George

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