Making more beer using less water

Monday, March 17th, 2014

24_02_Blog Water Week SustainabilityWater is one of our key sustainable development priorities in planning for the future. For us it’s about ‘making more beer using less water’, and so much more. As we observe National Water Week let’s take a look at some of SAB’s ongoing water initiatives.

Our water strategy is driven by our sustainable development priority to ‘make more beer, using less water’. The strategy takes on a comprehensive risk-based approach in managing water within the business and value chain and is based on the five all important ‘R’s’ framework:

  • Protect

  • Reduce

  • Re-use

  • Recycle

  • Redistribute.

To date, the company has made good progress on this front with water efficiency improving by 8% over the past three years to an average of 4.1 litres of water per 1 litre of beer produced. We’d like to reduce this further to 3.6 by 2015.

Water efficiency in our breweries

We’re systematically working to improving water efficiency at all of our breweries and have set ourselves the demanding target of reducing our water use per hectolitre of beer by 25% between 2008 and 2015.

Some of opportunities we’re exploring in this regard include optimising water use in boilers, steam accumulators and condensate recovery systems. The operating philosophy is based on systematic metering of water use in different parts of the brewing process, thus driving accountability in the different sections.

For example, at Alrode Brewery water from the bottle washers is pumped to dissolved air floatation purification systems to clarify it so that it can be reused safely in the washing of crates and floors. This section of the brewery measures its water use separately to other sections, which means each section can monitor and thus work on improving their section.

Water stewardship

SAB was one of the first companies to undertake a detailed water footprinting study. The study revealed that more than 90% of water used across the value chain of a beer rests in the agricultural supply chain.

To manage our water footprint we have undertaken the following:

 

1. The Strategic Water Partners Network

We’re working together key stakeholders in the water risk landscape within which we operate to improve water efficiency and infrastructure, including the likely future scenarios. Partners of the Strategic Water Partners Network include the Department of Water Affairs, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the South African Water Research Commission, the South African Local Government Association and several other companies such as Coca-Cola, Eskom, Nestle and Sasol.

2. Innovating through irrigation

We’re working closely with small-scale farmers in Taung to ensure optimal irrigation through the measurement of soil moisture.

Research is also being undertaken with the University of the Free State to determine a crop factor for barley and develop a computerised irrigation strategy exclusively for barley. This has the potential to enhance the sustainability of producers by cutting on costs for unnecessary water and electricity.

3. Promoting water research:  Project Eden

In partnership with Rhodes University, the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Advanced Centre for Water Resources Development and Management, we’ve successfully treated brewery waste-water using an environmentally sustainable approach. The quality of the treated water makes it suitable for re-use in irrigation and other secondary water uses, and it’s currently being used in the production of hydroponic lettuce and fish in a specially-designed greenhouse.

Called Project Eden, this innovative initiative utilizes High Rate Algal Ponding (HRAP) and Constructed Wetland (CW) technology to treat effluent from the brewery’s Anaerobic Digestion plant. It’s currently being implemented at our iBhayi Brewery in Port Elizabeth.

Beyond the brewery

Our water sustainability strategy includes initiatives along our entire value chain, from the farmers, throughout our breweries and beyond. We’re working not just with our own staff, but building strategic partnerships across industries and even country borders, working together to find better solutions every day. In these ways we’re aiming to not only make more beer using less water, but to preserve this precious natural resource for future generations

Comments

comments

Related Posts

SAB AND WWF-SA JOIN FORCES FOR SUSTAINABILITY

Recent merge seeks to unlock one billion litres of water a year. A pilot project to clear alien vegetation around […]

SAB Kickstart BOOST Finalists 2017

In June 2016, 25 candidates from a broad range of industries including health and wellness, marketing, agriculture, cleaning and manufacturing, […]

Kickstart igniting the youth

The movement towards ending the prevalence of youth unemployment in South Africa is currently underway and another organisation which has […]

Connect

Related articles

What makes a Clean World?

We are committed to A Clean World in which waste and carbon emissions will be reduced within the business and […]

Redefining South African Agriculture

We all know SAB as the company behind some of South Africa’s favourite brews. However, while the company has been […]

SAB SETS TANGIBLE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT TARGETS FOR LOCAL COMMUNITY AND BUSINESS GROWTH

SAB announced its targeted approach towards building strong South African communities and ensure its business success moving into the future, […]

SAB New Namibian Brewery

New brewery under construction in Namibia

Construction is underway for one of SABMiller’s most efficient and environmentally friendly breweries. The new brewery is planned to be one of SAB’s most efficient and environmentally friendly, when it begins operations in 2015. The estimated total investment into the brewery is 420-million Namibian Dollars (approximately R 420-million).

SAB water conservation

Strategic Water Partners Network: Working together for water futures:

We’ve come to realise that many of the resource challenges we face today and in the future can only be addressed by working with a broad coalition of partners. To this end, we’re a founder partner of the Strategic Water Partners Network (SWPN) which was formed in 2011. This is a coalition of businesses and other organisations working together to improve water efficiency and infrastructure.