By setting high aspirations on reducing energy and other sources of carbon emissions, we are helping to drive innovation among our breweries and their suppliers.
The international community acknowledges the need for urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. The Paris climate change agreement received a record number of signatories for a new international treaty, while action on sustainability and climate change features among several of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Goal nine of the SDGs recognises the need to foster innovation. We know we will only meet our 25% value chain carbon reduction target through innovating, both within and outside the brewery gates. Our breweries now measure the utilities they consume in true cash terms, through a ‘user pays’ principle we’ve developed for use across the world. The amount of water and energy consumed also forms part of how we judge the performance of employees responsible for each stage of the brewing process.
The strict operating environment we’ve established is having the desired effect in terms of driving innovative thinking among our brewery teams. This in turn has led to the introduction of a host of clever techniques and technologies, many of which can be replicated elsewhere.
A good example is the ‘simmer and strip’ technology developed by SAB Ltd, our subsidiary in South Africa. This process challenges conventional brewing wisdom that a good boil of the wort (the liquid containing the sugars needed for fermentation) results in a good brew.
Simmer and strip involves bubbling an inert gas through the kettle, which facilitates boiling at a lower temperature. This can reduce a site’s energy use by as much as 10%, saving costs and lowering carbon emissions with no compromise to beer quality. Already simmer and strip has proven a highly transferable technology, having been rolled out to other SABMiller regions including Australia and the United States.
In Tanzania, we have piloted an innovative technique called ‘dry de-husking’ or DDH for short. It allows us to remove part of the outer husk from malted barley grains before we begin the first stage of the brewing process, which is known as mashing and involves soaking the barley in hot water to extract its sugars. DDH has two major benefits: first, it means less energy is used in mashing, since less hot water is required to penetrate the husk-less grains. Second, the discarded husks can be collected and used as biofuel for the brewery’s boiler, meaning less reliance on fossil fuels.
Innovation can also pay off within our broader value chain. Our Peruvian subsidiary, Backus, has this year become the first business in Peru to use recycled PET resin in its soft drink packaging. This is the result of a partnership between Backus and San Miguel Industries (SMI), the country’s leading supplier of PET packaging. SMI has invested a total of $20 million in a new recycling plant that will help to reduce the volume of waste plastics polluting Peru’s public spaces.
And finally, in Australia our subsidiary Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) has worked with its glass supplier to remove almost 14,500 tonnes of glass from its packaging since 2013. This equates to a 4,000 tonne reduction in CO2 emissions, comparable to the total annual energy use of over 400 homes.