How Leading Beverage Companies Are Tackling Climate Change Together

August 6, 2017 | BIER

Climate change poses one of the greatest challenges to the continued prosperity of societies and businesses around the world, as well as the vitality of our natural resources and environment.

Since 2006, members of the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) have been working to advance environmental sustainability in the beverage sector and fight climate change through collaboration, data collection, standard setting and more.

With the recent adoption of the Paris Agreement at the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP21) in December 2015, our work has taken on new meaning and relevance as our member organizations that have operations that span more than 170 countries.

As a result, our resolve to continue our collaboration and global leadership has never been stronger. In 2015, we documented our ambitious goals in BIER’s Joint Commitment on Climate Change, showing the world we recognize the challenges of climate change and we’ll continue to do our part. And BIER members are making amazing progress individually and collectively.

Below we highlight our commitments and the collective progress we’ve made so far, as well as hear from members on how they’re taking action within their own organizations.

Commitment 1: Reduce energy consumption and source cleaner fuels

Our Progress: Nearly 20% improvement in energy intensity

Like water, energy is vital to the beverage industry, powering the electricity, heat, and transportation needed to sustain our businesses. But we know that a good proportion of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) come from burning fossil fuels to produce energy. As a result, BIER members are committed to reducing energy consumption across operations and sourcing cleaner fuels.

How are we tackling this commitment? By looking at our supply chains from end-to-end to unearth opportunities.

“From sourcing sustainable packaging to investing in new innovations, all members are actively pursuing partnerships to reduce our carbon footprints throughout our supply chains,” says Jenn Vervier, New Belgium Brewing’s Director of Strategy & Sustainability. “At New Belgium, we’ve invested in more efficient equipment, we’re harvesting waste energy through heat exchangers and energy storage tanks, and we’ve installed more than 1,200 solar photovoltaic panels across our facilities.”

In addition, BIER developed our own proprietary carbon commitment tool to help members align their practices with the broader sustainability goals of their businesses and the countries in which they operate.

“In order to move forward as an industry, we need to enable each of our members to meet their local and national commitments,” says Laura Nelson, BIER Benchmarking Project Manager. “The carbon commitment tool provides benchmarking data so members can see where they are and then take steps to reach their targets.”

At member company Carlsberg Group, a global carbon footprinting exercise of the entire value chain formed the foundation for their new ambitious sustainability program: Together Towards Zero.

“We used the carbon footprint analysis and industry knowledge to develop our new Science Based Targets, which include achieving zero carbon emissions at our breweries and a 30% reduction in the beer-in-hand carbon footprint by 2030,” says Eskild Andersen, Sustainability Manager at Carlsberg Group.

Commitment 2: Develop tools to manage water risk

Our Progress: Several concept papers and tool kits released—and more are to come

It’s no secret that water is paramount to the beverage sector – water risks are inextricably linked to climate change and energy consumption. With facilities spread across diverse geographies and climates, every beverage company faces unique water risks and opportunities within their local watersheds.

Since our inception, BIER has been focused on developing water tools and resources to help beverage companies identify, evaluate and manage water risks. To date, some of our water work includes:

Commitment 3: Reduce the water footprint of agriculture

Our Progress: Creation of a working framework for sustainable agriculture today and tomorrow

Agriculture is central to the supply chain of almost all beverage companies. But in the face of greater variability in precipitation and water scarcity, sustainable agriculture is a critical area of focus and demonstrable impact for BIER. To confront this complex issue head-on, BIER members are conducting leading-edge research and novel partnerships to accelerate sustainable sourcing and create more resilient products.

“PepsiCo has a diverse portfolio of foods and drinks that depends on an array of raw agricultural ingredients,” explains Al Halvorsen, PepsiCo’s Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability. “So we’ve been working with farmers around the world for many years to support sustainable agricultural practices. We believe that companies operating at the intersection of agriculture and water—such as ours and other BIER members—can mobilize their resources and scale to help protect water resources. That’s why BIER’s work to address agricultural complexities and solutions in core issues of business value, environmental and social impacts, and ingredients is so vital.”

In addition, we’ve collaborated to create a sustainable agriculture framework, featuring best practices such as engaging with stakeholders in water-stressed locations, and incorporating new technologies to optimize water and nutrient applications.

For example, land stewardship and managing soil health are core principles and focus areas for Ocean Spray Cranberries, a farmer-owned cooperative.

“Effective land and water management is the foundation for sustainable production,” explains Cathy Resler, Ocean Spray’s Head of Global Sustainability. “Our farmers have implemented comprehensive nutrient management plans that promote soil and water health for their farms and surrounding land. In fact, for every acre of cranberry production, Ocean Spray farmers maintain an average of 5.4 additional acres that serve as wildlife habitat and support biodiversity—thus improving the carbon footprint where they farm.”

As you can see, our members are growing beyond reducing their water footprint.

“Our members’ commitment to sustainable agriculture goes beyond water conservation or doing less harm,” states Josh Prigge, Fetzer Vineyards’ Director of Regenerative Development, which recently implemented a natural wastewater management solution that saves energy while making treated water available for re-use. “It’s about finding opportunities to make lasting positive impacts across our supply chain, and within the communities and ecosystems we operate in.”

Commitment 4: Enhance water conservation efforts

Our Progress: Nearly 20% improvement in water use efficiency

Promoting and enhancing global water stewardship is a foundation of BIER’s mission. Not only is water stewardship a business imperative, but it’s also the right thing to do to protect the communities and ecosystems in which we operate.

“Since 2009, water use efficiency trends have improved by upwards of 20% across BIER member companies,” says Andersen. “We’re all committed to doing our individual parts to drive that collective number higher.”

“Water is one of our four key priority areas,” adds Andersen. “We aim for zero water waste, and our target is to improve our water efficiency by 50% in 2030 compared to 2015. Furthermore, we will engage in partnerships to safeguard shared water resources in high-risk areas. Today, we have 15 breweries in high-risk areas.”

Join Us

We realize that tackling the causes of climate change takes a collective effort, and we welcome more collaboration. Today, BIER is 19-members strong and growing. If you’re interested in joining us, get in touch with us today.

To learn more about our work tackling climate change, check out our Energy & Climate work page.

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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