In ‘Calculated’ Move, Beverage Brands Develop Circular Footprint Formula Calculator to Help Reduce Environmental Impact of Packaging

February 18, 2020 | BIER

Circular Footprint Formula Calculation Tool for Beverage Brands
Leading beverage companies have been at the forefront of a global transformation taking place: The shift from the traditional take-make-use-dispose mindset to a society built around circular economy models.

Beverage brands have banded together (along with other organizations around the world) to continually challenge thinking around products, packaging materials and design, distribution, recovery, and other aspects critical to circularity. Achieving a circular economy is truly transformative and requires new ways of thinking, collaboration, and stakeholder alignment.

“Certainly, a move of this magnitude isn’t accomplished overnight,” Paul Bruijn, Senior Global Lead for Safety and Environment at HEINEKEN, said. “It’s a systematic shift that needs scalable, thoughtful, and collaborative solutions to enable companies to design products and business operations around recycling, reuse, and other circular economy principles.”

But time is of the essence as we stare down mounting environmental challenges and sustainable development goal (SDG) deadlines. Since 2006, the beverage companies within the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) have made significant strides, building and deploying best practices, frameworks, and tools to advance sustainability inside and outside their business sector. Just one example of this work is our Beverage Industry Greenhouse Gas Emissions Sector Guidance, a living document that aims to create greater consistency, accuracy, transparency, and leadership with GHG accounting and management.

That commitment to innovation led to the development of BIER’s Circular Footprint Formula (CFF) Calculator for Packaging. Read on to learn more about the development of this tool and hear from members at the forefront of implementing recycling, reuse, and alternative energy strategies to radically reduce—and eventually eliminate—their carbon footprints.

The Circular Footprint Formula’s Origin Story

Simply put, the environmental impact of a company’s product or service doesn’t begin or end with production.

“Every product and service has a unique lifecycle—and the environment is interacted with at every step of that lifecycle,” Carine Christophe, Group Environmental Manager at Pernod Ricard, shared. “But until recently, effectively measuring that interaction and impact has been cumbersome at best and impossible at worst.”

The CFF was developed in order to standardize the calculation of environmental burdens and benefits within the production and end-of-life of materials. These guidelines were established as part of the European Commission’s Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) initiative, which aimed to develop a multi-criteria measurement of environmental performance of a good or service throughout its lifecycle. BIER was fundamentally engaged in this work together with the Brewers of Europe and supported the development of Product Environmental Footprint Rules (PEFCRs) for beverage categories (beer and wine).

Ultimately, PEF and the resulting CFF guidelines aim to help companies more consistently measure, reduce, and disclose environmental impacts, particularly carbon emissions, across its operations and supply chain—from extraction of raw materials to waste management.

The Birth of the CFF Calculator for Packaging

When the PEF initiative kicked off back in 2013, 26 industry groupings were selected for a testing pilot, including wine, beer, and packaged waters. The goal of the testing phase was to develop category-specific methodologies. Several of BIER’s member companies including Carlsberg Group, HEINEKEN, AB InBev (SABMiller), and Pernod Ricard—and BIER as a whole—took part in the pilot.

Fast forward to 2018, guidelines were finalized for 22 of the original 26 industry groupings. And perhaps one of the biggest opportunities (and challenges) uncovered centered on packaging.

“The production and disposal of packaging accounts for one of the largest proportions of greenhouse gas emissions within the lifecycle of a beverage product,” Eskild Andersen, Group Environmental Manager for Carlsberg Breweries, explained. “For Carlsberg, packaging represents 40% of our overall carbon footprint.”

With guidelines in hand, the challenge now was to turn them into something actionable. BIER partnered with Blonk Consultants to develop an exclusive packaging carbon footprint model and calculator tool. We believed this was the most efficient way to road test the formulas and understand company-specific implications.

“Using two types of data—primary data from packaging suppliers and secondary background data—our tool is able to marry CFF guidelines with data to estimate environmental impacts,” Kate Krebs, Senior Environmental Policy Advisor at the American Beverage Association, shared. “This allows BIER members to estimate the impacts of their packaging portfolio. And with the right controls and data in place they can also compare packaging options, revealing opportunities for better packaging and enabling quicker decision-making.”

Carbon reductions and climate action have been at the forefront of BIER’s mission for more than a decade. Collectively, we’ve seen double-digit improvements in energy intensity and a significant improvement in GHG intensity. In fact, we’ve published an energy use benchmarking report for several years, and a new study will be conducted in 2020.

Stay tuned for more news and insights on the individual and collective progress our members are making by following us on Twitter or LinkedIn. Interested in joining or partnering with our team? Get in touch with us today.

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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