Sustainability: What brewers are doing
European brewers make huge efforts to become more sustainable in water usage. We know the damage that wasteful practises have on our resources and our climate, and we look across our operations to see how we can reduce our water consumption.
Why we’re saving water
Water is essential for beermaking: it is used in every step of the brewing process. It is the most important raw material used by the brewing sector. On average, water makes up about 92% of beer. Water is used for cleaning, with additional water needed for cooling and packaging. Much of the water losses in breweries can be due to evaporation or is simply sent down the drain. However, most of the water used from grain to glass is not in the breweries or bottling plants, but in the fields where ingredients like hops and barley are grown.
Water is also a vital environmental resource. Climate change and our growing global population mean water is getting scarcer – and the scramble for water resources is already generating tension in some regions. That is why the brewing sector has moved to reduce the water footprint of beer.
What we have done
Across Europe, breweries are finding ways to reduce and reuse water used for beermaking and to improve wastewater quality.
For more than a decade, breweries have been working to optimise water usage through the introduction of new technologies along the production processes. The average water footprint has fallen often to below five litres to one litre of beer, and that rate keeps dropping, with some brewers moving to cut it to three.
Today, there is an even stronger awareness of the need to cut the environmental footprint. Beer consumers increasingly look for sustainability as a factor in their purchases. Fresh, local ingredients are also part of how beer is being defined by consumers.
How are we doing it?
Mainly by recovering water throughout the brewing process, to reuse it in, say, cleaning processes that do not require high-quality water.
Some brewers start with the source, collecting rainwater or digging wells.
Others build on-site wastewater treatment plants, which improve the quality of the water that is then sent to the municipal treatment plants or to local farms. Inside the plant, breweries have improved pasteurisation, which can use significant amounts of water, shifting from tunnel pasteurisation to flash pasteurisation which uses less.
Other measures include installing special filters in wastewater systems to hold micro-solid substances, so the extracted water is completely clean. And some use a Liquid Efficiency Spraying System (LESS) which slows down pumps used on the bottling line for cleaning without impacting effectiveness.
We encourage sustainable practices through our brewing processes. Water is our number one ingredient, and we believe that it should be protected through our operations. Through our various initiatives, we are working to ensure we do not waste water when making our delicious beers.
Water efficiency: latest initiatives
Water for Hops project aims at finding solutions to secure enough water for future hop production in Saaz region in the Czech Republic.
The innovative OxySteam process can reduce losses from boilers by up to 95%
GreenKayak is an environmental NGO that engages volunteers in the fight against environmental pollution while kayaking. We have proudly sponsored a fleets in three countries since 2018.