SABMiller logo

Applying nexus thinking to our operations

Ten Priorities. One Future.

We rely on large quantities of high-quality water and agricultural crops to make beer, and the brewing process requires energy.

To continue to make high-quality beers in an increasingly resource-constrained world, we need to place nexus thinking at the heart of how we operate, addressing the relationship between water, food and energy on a daily basis.

This year we used 667 million hectolitres (hl) of water, which equates to 3.7 hectolitres of water per hectolitre of lager produced, a 8% improvement on 2012. We are on track to meet our 2015 target of a group average of 3.5hl/hl, with 25 of our plants already achieving an efficiency of 3.5hl/hl and six plants below 3.0 hl/hl, including our Yatala brewery in Australia.

Using less water requires less energy to pump, heat and treat it. In 2013 we used 127 megajoules (MJ) per hl – a reduction of 8% compared with the previous year – and our CO2e emissions fell by 10% to 11.1 kgCO2e per hl. In absolute terms, we have reduced water use by 16% and carbon emissions by 26% between 2008 and 2013.

In absolute terms, we have reduced water use by 16% and carbon emissions by 26% between 2008 and 2013.

Brewing more efficiently also reduces waste. The waste we produce is mainly organic and 94.4% is reused or recycled. In South Africa, for example, spent grain is sold to farmers for cattle feed and spent yeast goes to food manufacturers for use in savoury spreads. This year, Compañía Cervecera de Canarias in the Canary Islands sent over 13,000 tonnes of its organic waste to 176 farmers and cattle breeders to use as fertiliser or animal feed. In the USA, four of MillerCoors' eight major breweries do not send any waste to landfill at all.

As well as finding outlets for our own waste, some of our businesses use the by-products of food production to generate energy – rice husks, for example – so providing additional income to local farmers.

Over half of our beer is packaged in returnable bottles and kegs which have a lower carbon and waste impact than single-use types of packaging. In South Africa, over 80% of SAB (Pty) Ltd's beers are packaged in returnable bottles. In Colombia, Bavaria's super-returnable bottles are used, on average, 44 times. We work with suppliers to reduce the weight and environmental impact of both returnable and one-way packaging. For example, this year, Grolsch changed its iconic swing-top bottle for a lighter version, saving over 100 tonnes of steel a year.

We also encourage our consumers to recycle and we work with retailers and municipalities to ensure that recycling facilities are available. In Zimbabwe, Delta Corporation joined forces with the local municipality, a local NGO and a local entrepreneur to introduce a scheme whereby people in the Victoria Falls region were paid for collecting 80 tonnes of cans, 60 tonnes of glass and five tonnes of PET which could then be processed and sold.

View a video of Tony van Kralingen, Supply Chain & Human Resources Director, SABMiller plc, talking about sustainable development in our breweries

Sustainable Development Report

Our 2013 Sustainable Development Summary Report, covering progress on our 10 priorities.

Download Sustainable Development report PDF (5.6Mb)

Front cover of Sustainable Development Report 2013