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Cutting out coal

A heat exchanger at the ABI Phoenix plant

At ABI Phoenix, a feasibility study of a proposed heat recovery system to reduce the load on the coal fired boiler and ideally to completely remove it from service was undertaken. The idea was to recover heat from the ammonia compressors and install an additional heat exchanger on the sugar syrup plant to pre-heat the incoming water with the exiting hot water and simultaneously reduce the amount of cooling required.

From the heat balances it was shown that the recovered heat is not sufficient for all the requirements and an additional make-up supply was required. The proposed solution was to install a heat pump on the roof of the plant and utilise the heat in the exhaust air from the screw compressor to improve its efficiency.

Following this project, the Carbon foot print of the plant has been reduced dramatically; no more coal dust and lower power consumption than before. Coal consumption has been reduced from +- 35 tons per month to zero and power from +- 28 kW to +- 15 kW 24 hour average.

Using biogas at Alrode Brewery

The biogas recovery plant at Gauteng

At its Alrode brewery in Gauteng, SAB has developed a biogas recovery plant to reduce its traditional dependence on coal.

The brewery’s effluent is treated using an anaerobic digestion process, which generates methane gas. The brewery currently produces five million litres of effluent a day and 90% of the organic load is turned into biogas with a methane content of 85%.

This biogas is used as fuel in a new, dedicated boiler where it’s burnt to boil water and produce steam for the brewing process. This project has provided a further demonstration to the business that using biogas is feasible and could be adopted across other parts of the group.

Lightening the PET load

Rows of PET bottles

SAB Ltd uses over 30,000 tons of Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) to produce approximately 800 million bottles spread across Sparkling Soft Drinks (SSD’s),Flavoured Waters, Sports Drinks and Iced Tea. PET resin is made from Ethylene Glycol and Terephthalic Acid. Although “green” Glycol can be made out of a more expensive biomass e.g. sugar cane and/or its begasse waste-product, it is mostly sourced from Oil. Terephthalic Acid is made out of Paraxylene, an oil-refinery product. Therefore reducing the usage of material reduces our carbon footprint both on raw materials and on the disposal of used bottles.

During 2009 and 2010, savings were made by 1-2g on PET bottles of three different sizes. This was achieved through adapting the moulds for the bottles whilst still ensuring they would continue to retain gas and be easily stacked. Through saving 1-2g on each bottle, it is estimated that 1400 tonnes of PET are saved per year.

To continue this saving, SAB Ltd now have plans for further PET lightweighting which will aim to reduce PET usage by a further 10%, saving more than 3000 tonnes of PET a year.

Taking training out to taverns

A group of men being trained

In South Africa, SAB Ltd in partnership with an NGO partner (Men for Development in South Africa (MEDSA)) have continued to run a life skills programme for men – focusing on HIV/Aids, responsible consumption of alcohol and gender-based violence.

This programme is based in local taverns and offers men a six week, life-skills course. It provides context-specific and culturally-relevant information and suggestions for alternative, positive behavioural patterns to the tavern patrons. In addition, participants are encouraged to have themselves and their spouses tested for HIV.

The programme has been particularly successful and it is envisaged that this will be scaled up significantly in the next financial year.

Negotiating with employees at ABI

A worker checking a delivery

During 2009 workers at ABI, the soft drinks division of SAB, opted to take strike action to support demands for better wages and working conditions. The management of the business was quick to act to minimise the impact of the strike on operations and to continue talking with the Food and Allied Workers’ Union (FAWU) to work towards a mutually beneficial agreement.

At the majority of sites, the strike was conducted in a professional and congenial manner. Unfortunately, some union members at a small number of sites engaged in the illegal and sometimes violent intimidation of non-striking employees. In response, ABI increased its security to ensure that all employees were safe and free to enjoy their right to work and to support their families.

Despite these incidents, talks continued. After lengthy negotiations, ABI and FAWU reached an agreement that will see wages and benefits increase by a total of 8.3% – comparing favourably with packages offered by other companies in the industry. All permanent employees were welcomed back to ABI and an independent third party was brought in to chair all disciplinary enquiries relating to the strike.

Our priorities: Human rights

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People using a SABMiller community centre