7 Major Water Stewardship Milestones in the Beverage Industry | BIER Decade in Review

June 14, 2017 | BIER

Water is absolutely vital to the beverage industry. Beverage companies not only rely on water as an essential ingredient, but also as a primary resource for growing agricultural ingredients. As a result, protecting this critical resource is a business imperative—not to mention the right thing to do.

“As leading beverage companies, we have an opportunity and responsibility to help tackle our world’s global water challenges, and are committed to doing so,” says Dr. Paul Bowen, Director of Sustainable Operations at The Coca-Cola Company and a founding member of the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER). “For more than a decade, BIER members have collaborated on innovative approaches, tools and methodologies for assessing the technical and business aspects of water within our operations to inform educated actions. The more environmentally smart updates embraced internally, the greater the benefits for our shared world. By working together, we can continue to increase positive results for both our businesses and planet.”

To celebrate over 10 years of work, our members highlight some of the water stewardship milestones BIER has achieved through collaboration, benchmarking and developing actionable solutions.

1. Competitors come together

In 2006, BIER was founded by Antea Group, together with six leading beverage companies, many of whom were competitors vying for brand loyalty and market share. Those founding members included: The Coca-Cola Company, Pepsico, Nestle Waters North America, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Cadbury Schweppes and Diageo.

“Every beverage company has a vested interest in protecting the world’s water supply—if for no other reason than to bolster the future of their business and reputation,” says Roberta Barbieri, PepsiCo’s Vice President of Global Water and Environmental Solutions. “But no company can do it on their own. This simple truth, coupled with members’ shared vision for ensuring the vitality of people, communities, businesses and ecosystems around the world, is what led to BIER’s creation.”

2. BIER defines world-class water stewardship

With water being paramount to the beverage industry, water stewardship became a foundational element of BIER’s mission. As a result, one of the coalition’s first orders of business was to define what sound water stewardship and leadership actually looks like.

“Assuming that compliance was an absolute minimum expectation, we developed a set of six leadership principles to help guide and inspire companies to continually act, engage and influence water stewardship,” explains Dr. Bowen.

Those six principles and their respective elements became BIER’s World Class Water Stewardship in the Beverage Industry living framework, which was launched in 2007, and refreshed in 2010 and 2016.

3. BIER releases its first water benchmarking study

With a framework in hand, we turned our attention at BIER to understanding what drives and impacts water stewardship for beverage companies. With member companies offering up their data, BIER’s inaugural Water Benchmarking Study was released in 2007.

“Our first Water Benchmarking Study allowed us to establish baseline performance data for a range of facility types spread across different geographies,” says Barbieri. “In addition, since the study looked at three years of data, we were also able to see improvements that were already taking shape, and draw actionable insights to help beverage companies refine their efforts.”
The BIER Benchmarking Study continues to be the most comprehensive water and energy use benchmark in the beverage industry, representing over 1,700 facilities across six continents. As demonstrated in the studies, industry water use efficiency trends have improved by upwards of 20% since 2009.

4. BIER unveils water accountability guide

While organizations such as the Water Footprinting Network and the International Organization for Standardization were developing detailed water footprinting methodologies, BIER formed a working group in 2010 to evaluate current and emerging footprinting practices. To help beverage companies actually apply methodologies to their operations, in 2011 BIER released A Practical Perspective on Water Accounting in the Beverage Sector.

“A key component of water stewardship is understanding your company’s water footprint,” states Andre Fourie, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Global Director of Water. “The BIER water accounting guide, and subsequent companion documents, provided a relevant tool to help beverage companies effectively address water-related business risks and opportunities.”

5. BIER membership grows around the world

BIER has seen incredible membership growth in its decade of existence. Shortly after our launch in 2006, we welcomed Bacardi Limited, Molson Coors, American Beverage Association, Brown Forman, Beam Suntory, and Danone, bringing our membership total to 12. Then, in 2009, we saw a whopping 6 members join, including current members: Carlsberg, Miller Coors, New Belgium, and Pernod Richard. With this significant increase, BIER also reflected a more holistic representation of the beverage industry, positioning us to speak as one voice on behalf of the sector.

Since 2009, OceanSpray, HEINEKEN, SAB Miller, Constellation Brands, Fetzer Vineyards, and Jackson Family Wines have also come on board.

“Each member brings demonstrated technical expertise, ambition to collaborate and shared commitment for shaping the future of environmental sustainability within the beverage sector and throughout their supply chain,” says Margaret Uttke, BIER Membership & Communications Director. “Today, we’re 19-members strong and growing.”

6. BIER releases toolkit to help companies determine the “true cost” of water

Water is a strategic priority for beverage companies. However, it can be easy to overlook the actual financial impact water plays on the overall business—which is why BIER launched our True Cost of Water Toolkit in 2015.

“Generally speaking, many companies only consider the cost of water ‘at the tap’—which means they’re only considering what they think they pay instead of what they actually pay,” explains Andy Battjes, Director of EHS at Brown-Forman. “The toolkit was designed to help companies better estimate what they’re actually spending, rather than simply using their water bill as a gauge—and then ultimately use that insight to make a better financial case for water efficiency projects.”

7. BIER receives recognition from the White House
In honor of World Water Day 2016, the Obama Administration held its inaugural White House Water Summit to promote the national importance of water and highlight the administration’s and other organizations’ commitments to water stewardship.

During the event, BIER was honored for our work to promote and enhance water conservation and sustainability.

“Receiving White House recognition was the perfect way to celebrate our 10th anniversary,” recalls Diana Vesosky, Director of Global Sustainability & EHS at Constellation Brands. “We knew our mission was an important one, and this recognition certainly strengthened our resolve to keep moving forward.”

2017 and Beyond

The year is already off to an incredible start with the release of our Future Scenarios Toolkit, which provides beverage companies with a robust framework for analyzing how potential social, environmental and governmental scenarios could impact their businesses—as well as helping them prepare to tackle those scenarios. In addition, we’re gearing up for our inaugural Latin American Water Forum, which we’re co-hosting with Bacardi and Constellation Brands June 14-15 in Mexico.

“We’re excited about what the future holds,” says Tod Christenson, Executive Director of BIER. “And we welcome and encourage others to join us in our mission.”

Download and read BIER’s recently released 2016 Water and Energy Use Benchmarking Study to see the sustainability progress the beverage industry is making.



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

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. BIER aims to affect sector change through work focused on water stewardship, energy efficiency and climate change, beverage container recycling, sustainable agriculture, and ecosystem services. BIER members include: American Beverage Association, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Bacardi, Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman, Carlsberg Group, The Coca-Cola Company, Constellation Brands, Diageo, Heineken, Jackson Family Wines, Keurig Dr Pepper, MillerCoors, Molson Coors, Ocean Spray Cranberries, PepsiCo, and Pernod Ricard.

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