Member Spotlight: Daniel Hernandez

May 19, 2022 | BIER

Meet Daniel Hernandez
Name: Daniel Hernandez, EHS and Sustainability Manager

Company: Brown-Forman

Connect with Daniel on Twitter

Welcome to our series aimed at spotlighting the individual leaders within BIER member companies and stakeholder organizations. Learn how these practitioners and their companies are addressing pressing challenges around water, energy, agriculture, climate change, and what inspires each of them to advance environmental sustainability in the beverage sector and collectively, overall.

Briefly describe your role and responsibilities and how long you have worked with your company.

I am the EHS and Sustainability Manager for Casa Herradura and I have been working for Brown Forman since 2008. My responsibilities include developing and implementing sustainability strategies across Casa Herradura operations related to climate action, water stewardship, circular economy, sustainable packaging and sustainable agriculture. I support global key performance indicators of SeMQPDC including Safety and Environment, Quality, Production, Delivery, Costs, and lead with a Responsible Production mindset.

I have been fortunate because, for the majority of my career at Brown-Forman, I have been working in the environmental arena.  As I mentioned, I work for Casa Herradura; it is one of the largest tequila companies in Mexico. I run the wastewater treatment plant and the composting process. I’m proud to say we have been recognized for our sustainability initiatives. In 2010 Casa Herradura received recognition for our sustainable operations. This is important as we were the first Tequila Factory in Jalisco state to receive this recognition. We also have received a federal environmental certification called Clean Industry from the state related to environmental compliance. We received level 1 certification at first and then level 2. The federal certification, level 2, is the highest level. In 2015, we received an award that is called Environmental Excellence because of the different sustainability activities that we made from 2008 to 2015. This is the only Tequila Factory that has received this recognition to date.

In 2021, Brown-Forman released an updated Environmental Sustainability strategy, as well as, our third set of public Environmental Sustainability (ES) targets.  One of the most significant changes is the expansion of our targets beyond our four walls and including our supply chain for the first time.  Our Environmental Sustainability strategy includes six strategic focus areas: Climate Action, Water Stewardship, Circularity, Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Forestry, and Sustainable Packaging.  I’m encouraged by this because engaging with suppliers is a new and exciting opportunity for me in my role.

How has the company’s sustainability program evolved over the years, and what are your specific priorities for 2022?

As I mentioned, in 2021, Brown-Forman released an updated Environmental Sustainability strategy, as well as our third set of public ES targets. We moved from a reduction of GHG emissions to a Climate action focus not only across our owned operations but through our supply chain in accordance with the United Nation’s 1.5° scenario.  We evolved from a reduction in water use and wastewater discharge target to a water stewardship focus committed to protecting the health of key watersheds (water balance) in our communities, including Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for employees in our workplaces. Also, the zero waste to landfill goal was changed to a circular economy and sustainable packaging target thus moving to a true sustainability path. We are also adding priorities and commitments for sustainable agriculture and sustainable forestry. Throughout 2022 we are developing the strategies to implement these new sustainability targets through different multidisciplinary and diverse teams across the world. It’s exciting times indeed!

Closer to home in my facility in Mexico, we have sustainability-related issues around water. As you can imagine, here in Mexico, water is the most important environmental challenge for us because we have a lot of water scarcity. Given that, I am glad that we have sustainability targets that align with our company priorities, but also, for our country and for our people. Because our updated Environmental Sustainability strategy includes working beyond our four walls with suppliers and stakeholders, having a focus on the local watershed is essential. It’s important to note that we are located in Jalisco, one of the 5 states in México that supports the growing of agave to make tequila and where you are available to produce tequila (in fact Jalisco is the state where Tequila was born). It’s similar to France and the champagne region. Currently, there are many companies using the same local watershed. This presents us with opportunities to establish agreements and work together to have a healthy watershed, support production, and the local community.  As an added bonus, I’ve been fortunate to participate in the Charco-Bendito project and as a result of collaborating with others, I feel I can leverage the learnings and experiences gained from that experience to support the watershed efforts in the location where Brown Forman – Casa Herradura is located – here in Jalisco.

How do you feel being a BIER member will help you successfully address the key areas you are addressing in 2022?

One of the great examples of being a BIER member is the collaboration between the different members. I enjoy being exposed to different ways of working. It is also advantageous to work with other professionals representing different beverage companies that have experience in certain areas where we don’t. This is especially useful as we embark on our new sustainability journey here at Brown-Forman.

Name one of the practical solutions or best practices you learned in working with BIER and its members and why it was important to you and/or your company.

I’ve enjoyed working with specialist consultants; for example, consultants that have experience in water projects involving different stakeholders. As I mentioned, this has been very helpful for me because our sustainability strategies go beyond our facilities and I don’t have this kind of knowledge, so I have experienced this new way of working through BIER.

Share a recent accomplishment of your company’s sustainability initiatives/achievements you are most proud of and why. 

For me, one of our biggest and most important achievements in sustainability in Casa Herradura has been to treat 100% of the stillage or vinazas (1 liter of tequila produces at least 10 liters of vinazas) produced in the process and generating treated water that is used for green water irrigation and also produces biogas that is used as a fuel in our steam boilers.

In the beginning, the vinazas were an environmental problem, now they are a key part of our sustainability actions.

If you had one superpower that could be used to radically accelerate and scale sustainable best practices, which one would it be, and how would you use it?

As for my superpower, I would like to have the power to touch, transform, or move people (travel to the future) in a way that they understand the consequences of their actions related to environmental problems (water scarcity, climate change, etc). I would use that superpower so that people could change their way of thinking and begin making better choices and acting for the better. I imagine using that superpower to take that individual or groups of people into the future, say 10 years into the future, and allow them to see what is happening with the environment and then, be able to bring that awareness back to the present in a way that transforms and changes that person’s approach to how they take environmental action in their daily life so they can take action now.

The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) is a technical coalition of leading global beverage companies working together to advance environmental sustainability within the beverage sector.
By BIER [crp]

The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) is a technical coalition of leading global beverage companies working together to advance environmental sustainability within the beverage sector. Formed in 2006, BIER is a common voice across the beverage sector, speaking to influence global standards on environmental sustainability aspects most relevant to the sector, affect change both up and down the supply chain and share best practices that raise the bar for environmental performance of the industry. By doing so, BIER is able to monitor data and trends, engage with key stakeholders, develop best practices, and guide a course of action for the future.

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