Ethical Performance
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Brewers pledge to cut carbon use by 2020

March 2011

Targets for cuts in carbon emissions and water use have been set by Britain’s brewing industry.

The aims and deadlines are stated in a document signed by 61 companies belonging to the London-based British Beer and Pub Association. They include the UK arms of brewing giants such as Anheuser-Busch, Carlsberg and Heineken.

The brewers commit themselves to a collective 17.5 per cent reduction in overall carbon dioxide emissions and an 11 per cent increase in water efficiency by 2020.

The association says the carbon reduction target is more challenging than it appears because the sector’s carbon emissions have fallen ‘hugely’ already, by 60 per cent between 1990 and 2009.

‘It’s going to be tough to achieve,’ it said. ‘Most of the major efficiency gains have already been achieved, and many brewing sites are close to their optimum performance without major new step changes in technology.’

Nevertheless, the industry is confident it can meet or even exceed the 2020 carbon reduction target.

Brigid Simmonds, the association’s chief executive, said some of the gains would have to come through working with suppliers. ‘We recognize that we can do more to influence energy and water use in our supply chain,’ she said.

As well as the water and carbon dioxide targets, contained in a document called Brewing green – our commitment to a sustainable future for Britain’s beer, there are other less precise goals.  

The document says brewers will ‘increase the use of renewable energy within the sector’ but sets no targets. However, it will begin collecting data on the sector’s present use of renewable technology, so that objectives can be set.  

Other less concrete goals include a pledge ‘to continue to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill year on year’, and to ‘play our part in the reduction of packaging waste from our products’.

The association does, however, say it will now produce annual reports detailing progress against all objectives and will ‘enhance the quality and quantity of data available to monitor progress against all targets’.

The document emphasizes that most brewers will benefit from meeting the targets.
A recently installed state-of-the-art refrigeration plant at the John Smith’s brewery, for instance, has saved the company more than £70,000 ($112,000, €82,000) in electricity consumption in the first year alone.

some who have made the pledge:

  • Adnams
  • Charles Wells
  • Diageo
  • Everards Brewery
  • Fuller Smith & Turner
  • Hook Norton Brewery
  • Marston’s
  • Miller Brands UK
  • Molson Coors (UK)
  • Punch Taverns
  • SA Brain & Company
  • Shepherd Neame
  • T & R Theakston

British Beer and Pub Association | UK & NI Ireland | Carbon Emissions

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