A crucial factor in securing the sustainable profitability of local businesses is to ensure good supplies of high-quality water for SABMiller's breweries. Concern is growing worldwide about water scarcity and the group is taking steps to understand and manage any potential risks to its business.
In 2008 SABMiller set itself the target of using 25% less water per hectolitre of beer produced by 2015. A range of programmes are now in place to achieve this reduction, but the issue also affects SABMiller's suppliers and demands wider action.
In partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), SABMiller is pioneering the technique of water footprinting to understand how much water is used, and where, within its value chain. The work breaks new ground in Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO)-corporate partnerships by aligning environmental interests with the need to protect SABMiller's operations. Joint projects with WWF in a number of water-scarce markets are helping to identify where communities, the local environment and SABMiller businesses face possible shortages and to decide what can be done to safeguard supplies.
One example of working in partnership to improve the management of water is a project with WWF, local farmers and the authorities in Honduras that seeks to reduce soil erosion and the use of pesticides by farmers. As well as helping the environment and improving water quality in the watershed from which SABMiller's operation draws its supplies, the project benefits farmers by reducing their input costs.
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