SABMiller logo


Making more beer but using less water

Colombia: Water reclamation

Water plant

In 2008, our Colombian subsidiary Bavaria used 5.1 hectolitres of water for every hectolitre of beer produced. This figure now stands at 4.1 hectolitres. This improvement has been achieved through a variety of initiatives, including a new water reclamation programme at its Tocancipá Brewery.

A number of innovative ways to reuse some of the brewery’s waste water have been developed. Through developing a water treatment process which includes purification, reverse osmosis and disinfection, waste water can now be used in a number of brewery processes such as the washing of crates, the operation of vacuum pumps, evaporative condensers and the cleaning of dirty areas.

The project began in November 2009 and was completed in January 2011. Since completion, it is estimated that there has been a reduction of 22,000 cubic metres of fresh water used per month.

El Salvador: Protecting the local water supply

Complejo El PlayĆ³n reserve in El Salvador

“Complejo El Playón” near San Salvador is a protected area which is important for the natural water recharge of the aquifer which supplies local communities with water. However, in recent years the area has witnessed environmental degradation due to deforestation and the creation of new human settlements within the park. This poses a significant risk to the local water supply.

In response to the increasing degradation and recognising the environmental importance of the park, Industrias La Constancia has worked with a number of local partners to implement an environmental payment scheme.

The scheme aims to recognise the environmental benefits of sustainable land use. This includes water protection and promoting biodiversity conservation. As part of the project, indigenous trees have also been planted and rangers have been appointed to monitor land use within the park.

Uganda: Saving water and costs

Nile Breweries plant in Uganda

In August 2008, Nile Breweries in Uganda had a water efficiency ratio of 7.5 hl/hl. Realising that this could be reduced to minimise both costs and the brewery's impact on the environment, Nile Breweries launched a profit improvement project (PIP) to improve its water efficiency.

A multidisciplinary team was formed which incorporated members from the packaging, brewing and utilities departments. This team then analysed past data to determine realistic water reduction targets and timelines. This led to the identification of a number of areas where improvements could be made and an action plan was developed.

To improve water efficiency, a number of capital projects were implemented. These included the recovery of filter-backwash water for floor washing in non production areas and gardening, machine cooling water recovery and reuse and improved metering. Now, approximately 10% of water in the brewery is able to be recovered and reused.

In addition to capital projects, Nile Breweries has worked hard to raise awareness of the importance of saving water amongst employees. For example, new cleaning practices have been introduced which involve using buckets and water squeezers instead of hoses. Furthermore, each department now reports weekly on their water usage to ensure performance matches the targets.

As a result of these initiatives, Nile Breweries has substantially improved its water efficiency performance. Over the last year, the average water ratio was 4.8 hl/hl.

India: Working with farmers to save water

Woman watering crops

At its Rochees brewery in the water-stressed Alwar district in Rajasthan, SABMiller India has initiated a number of programmes to protect the water supply for the brewery and local farmers. The region has traditionally suffered from over-extraction and poor water management. This has resulted in a significant drop in the aquifer level which poses serious risks to both SABMiller India and the livelihoods of local communities.

Read more about Working with farmers to save water

South Africa: Project Eden

Project Eden at South Africa

At the iBhayi Brewery in Port Elizabeth, SAB Ltd (SAB) has worked with Rhodes University to develop an innovative way to treat brewery waste-water and achieve quality standards that made it suitable for re-use in irrigation and other secondary water. Known as Project Eden, the groundbreaking research is a first for South Africa’s brewing industry.

Read more about Project Eden

Tanzania: Water Futures partnership

Beer brewery at Tanzania

Named after Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro is one of Tanzania’s most popular beer brands. The brewery in Dar es Salaam in which it is produced lies in an area of potential water stress. As part of our Water Futures global partnership, with WWF and GIZ (an agency that acts for the German government to promote economic, ecological and social development), we have undertaken a project to understand the potential water scarcity and quality risks affecting this brewery and the local area. This includes risks from population growth, deteriorating water quality and impacts of climate change.

Read more about Water Futures Partnership