Sustainability: What brewers are doing
There is almost no way to produce and sell beer without using some form of freight and transport. But there are ways to make this shipping more sustainable, as a contribution to decarbonising logistics and curbing climate change.
What we transport
Brewing beer means bringing together many different elements. The basic ingredients, like hops, barley and yeast must be harvested and brought to the brewery. So must the energy. Containers and packaging are needed. And the finished product – in a tank, keg, bottle or can – must be brought to the customer in a café, pub or shop.
Transport accounts for around a quarter of all Europe’s carbon emissions, and of that, road transport accounts for around three-quarters of emissions. Global transportation has been estimated to account for around one-fifth of beer’s carbon footprint, though this can vary significantly from case to case due to the differing circumstances. And beer, like other alcoholic beverages, is generally shipped in climate-controlled vehicles to prevent spoiling. Brewers recognise their responsibilities in keeping these numbers down. That means moving freight to more sustainable transport modes.
What we are doing
Many breweries are already reviewing their processes to make them more sustainable. Greener practices are not just better for the planet, they are also more efficient, cutting costs for brewers. And they are increasingly supported by consumers, who are willing to pay more for sustainable beer.
How can brewers make their transport systems more sustainable?
One of the simplest is through a modal shift, which means transferring products from road to other, less carbon-intensive, forms of transport. In some places, beer is shipped along the canals and rivers. Rail is increasingly used. In other environments even bicycles may be used for small scale transport in urban settings.
Some brewers are keeping more of their production on-site. That could be ingredients like barley and hops grown next to the brewery, or the bottling and packaging taking place in the same facility. One brewer cut out transport to an out-of-town bottling plant altogether by building a 3km pipeline between the two facilities.
Even when modal shifts are not possible, brewers can ensure that road deliveries are cleaner. Brewers are buying electric trucks, hydrogen-fuelled long-haul-trucks and other zero-emission vehicles.
There is growing momentum for sustainability in brewing. While it may not always be possible to avoid freight and transport of beer, brewers are looking across their processes and systems to see how to reduce the environmental impact of their activities.
Transport: latest initiatives
AB InBev and supermarket group Colruyt join forces: Green hydrogen as a promising solution for heavy transport
AB InBev and Colruyt are collaborating to demonstrate the use of alternative fuels on a large scale to the transport and logistics sectors. On their way to zero-emission transport, the two companies want to build further on the hydrogen economy for heavy transport in Belgium.
In 2020, Carlsberg Group purchased electric 26-tonne trucks from Renault Trucks to make important steps in the transformation of urban transport.
AB InBev unveils Belgium’s very first electric delivery truck. The Volvo FL Electric Truck emits no CO2 and is low noise.