In the penultimate part of this month's briefing, Ben Cooper turns his attention to energy use and carbon emissions from the multinational brewers.

Introduction

Along with water consumption, energy efficiency is clearly central to the sustainability strategies of brewers, whether this is through better utilisation of conventional energy sources or developing the use of renewable forms.

As shown in earlier sections of this management briefing, energy and water use are closely connected. Initiatives to improve water efficiency may have a carbon footprint pay-off and vice versa.

There is clearly a direct link between carbon emissions and a company's consumption of energy derived from fossil fuels. For this reason, headline figures on energy efficiency are an excellent proxy for progress on carbon. However, carbon emissions through waste are also an important consideration. As with water, companies are increasingly looking at both energy consumption and carbon emissions in the broader value chain.

Performance and targets by company 

Anheuser-Busch InBev

A-B InBev states that energy conservation has been a "strategic focus" for the company for many years, but it has increased its focus in recent years as a result of "the unpredictable cost of energy and emerging climate regulations".

The company has set three-year targets on a number of key environmental performance indicators, including energy efficiency and carbon emissions, aiming to reduce both energy use per hectolitre by 10% and CO2 emissions per hectolitre by 10% by the end of 2012.

In 2010, which is the most recent year for which it has posted results, the company reduced its energy use per hectolitre of production by 3.7%, representing a 14% decline against a 2007 baseline.

It also reduced CO2 emissions per hectolitre of production by 3% in 2010, measuring this using the accepted WBCSD/WRI (World Business Council for Sustainable Development/World Resources Institute) GHG protocol, which differentiates direct and indirect emissions, or Scope 1 and Scope 2. In 2010, A-B InBev emitted 4.35m metric tons of CO2 equivalent, 68.5% of which were direct emissions.

Energy generated from renewable sources accounted for around 7% of its fuel use in 2010. The company already has digesters for creating biogas in more than 25 of its facilities. Daniel Navaresse, A-B InBev's global director for energy and fluids, says in most of these cases biogas is being used as a substitute for fossil fuels in boilers but in some instances the company is using biogas to generate electricity.

According to Navaresse, there is potential to increase the use of anaerobic digestion to generate biogas but he points out that this is also dependent on having an effluent treatment system which has the anaerobic stage. In general, he believes this will be an area of development for the brewing industry as a whole. "We expect that," Navaresse says. "Projects that might not have been feasible five years ago, because of the cost of the equipment, now make sense. The price of conventional energy is also playing a role.

Carlsberg

Water, energy and packaging are the three main environmental priorities at Carlsberg. The company reported that its energy efficiency in 2010 "remained fairly constant" compared to 2009. However, while the company conceded that it had not made progress towards its 2012 target, it managed to maintain the same level in spite of a decrease in production which can often lead to a deterioration in efficiency.

The company's 'Lean Utilities' programme is bearing fruit, Carlsberg reports. The programme began in Western Europe in 2009, and this region produced a 5% decrease in specific energy consumption in 2010. The brewer began rolling out the programme to other regions from 2011, and expects its broader application to improve group-wide energy performance.

CO2 emissions fell by 2.7% compared to 2009 levels, with the greatest improvements recorded in Asia, where the company reduced emissions by around 15%. Carlsberg has published new targets for energy consumption and CO2 emissions. It aims to reduce energy consumption by 10% to 29 kWh/hl by 2013, and CO2 emissions by 6% to 8.2 kg CO2/hl, from a 2010 baseline.

Diageo

Diageo has a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions from its operations by 50% by 2015. The company reported a 7.1% reduction from 2010 to 2011 and a cumulative reduction of 13.9% in carbon emissions between 2007 and 2011.

Performance was driven in part by continuing investment in energy efficiency projects at the company's beer production units, such as the installation of new brewing equipment in Ogba, Nigeria and utility plant optimisation at its Red Stripe brewery in Jamaica.

The company states that its GHG emissions come "almost entirely" from the burning of fossil fuels at its production sites and the purchase of electricity derived from fossil fuels. However, it points out that 50% of all its electricity use now comes from low carbon sources.

Heineken

Heineken reported that its CO2 emissions fell from 9.8 kg of CO2 equivalent per hectolitre in 2009 to 9.3 kg of CO2 equivalent per hectolitre in 2010.

Actual specific energy consumption in 2010 fell to 166 megajoules (MJ)per hectolitre, from 170 MJ/1hl in 2009.

The brewer is working towards targets of average fossil fuel CO2 emissions of 8.5 kg/1hl for breweries in scope, and specific energy consumption of 155 MJ/1hl by 2012.

In 2010, Heineken announced that  it had engaged with the International Sustainability Alliance on methodology to track energy consumption of buildings and warehouses.

Global sustainable development manager Vera Zandbergen stresses that improving energy efficiency has been an ongoing process for many years, pointing to a 17% reduction in MJ/1hl between 2002 and 2010.

Zandbergen believes the "next step" on energy is to boost renewable energy sources. "We've been looking at the different available energy technologies and how they fit in with our requirements for energy because you cannot use every technology in every situation."

Currently, Heineken only derives around 1% of its energy requirements from renewable sources. "That's clearly not sufficient for the future, so that really needs to move up to a higher percentage," Zandbergen says. "I don't know what percentage we will be able to go to; that's something we're studying now. We have to do the assessment for each of our production locations so it's quite a thorough study."

Among the projects currently underway are solar energy initiatives in Austria, Spain and Portugal, and a wind energy initiative in Mexico. Solar panels were installed in a brewery in Belgium in 2011.

Molson Coors

At Molson Coors, a company-wide Energy Council develops plant-by-plant, country and global energy targets and specific projects to enable their achievement. The company states that it uses focused brewery energy assessments and industry benchmarking to identify opportunities for improving energy efficiency.

According to its latest published figures, CO2 emissions efficiency has improved by 14% from a 2008 baseline; its target is 7% by the end of 2012, including both Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions. For  2010, the company reported a 3% decrease in energy use from 2009.

SABMiller

SABMiller states that it takes a holistic approach to energy and carbon management, working "first and foremost" to be as energy efficient in its production facilities, while also continually evaluating alternative and renewable sources of energy.

SABMiller is targeting a 50% reduction in fossil fuel emissions per hectolitre of beer by 2020, and remains "confident" that this target is achievable. It reported that fossil fuel emissions fell by 3% per hectolitre of beer produced in 2011.

While the company's work with regard to water use in its broader value chain is clearly focused on agricultural supply, the company says the focus with regard to carbon emissions in the broader value chain is on packaging manufacture, transport and the refrigeration of its products.

For the fifth and final part of this briefing, click here. To head to part three, click here.