Sustainable Supply Chains Making Big Strides Across Multiple Corporations, Industries
* By Sara Pearson Specter *
Companies worldwide are putting innovation behind their sustainability mandates, deploying technology, collaborations, innovation and partnerships to work both for the preservation of the planet and to enhance their bottom lines. Here are six real-life case studies featuring green solutions implemented across multiple supply chains and industries.
AB InBev recycles leftover alcohol from its brewing process into fuel
AB InBev, a global brewer of brands such as Anheuser-Busch, Budweiser, Stella Artois and many more, has been increasingly producing lighter beers with lower alcohol levels to meet customer demands. In February, the company’s European headquarters announced it is selling the alcohol leftover from the brewing process to Alcogroup, a Belgian biofuel producer.
Manufacturing low-alcohol beer starts by brewing the beverage normally, then heating it until the alcohol boils (at a lower temperature than water). The temperature is maintained until the solution reaches the desired alcohol percentage.
Brewers at AB InBev struck the deal with Alcogroup after realizing that by modifying their process to stabilize the extracted alcohol, it had value to another company. Additionally, AB InBev sought to minimize waste resulting from the process. Today, Alcogroup receives 75,000 liters (19,800 gallons) of residual alcohol from AB InBev each week. For every 100 liters (26 gallons) of alcohol, the company generates 18 liters (4.75 gallons) of biofuel.
As David De Schutter, research and development director for AB InBev Europe, noted in a February article in The Drinks Business, “We want to reuse as much as we can in the circular economy.”
That’s not the only zero waste initiative at AB InBev. The company also has set multiple sustainability goals to be met by 2025. These include a mandate to package 100% of its products in materials that are returnable or made primarily from recycled content; to reduce CO2 emissions throughout its entire supply chain by 25%; to purchase 100% of its electricity from renewable sources; to measurably improve water availability and quality in 100% of its high-stress-area communities; and that 100% of its direct farmers will be skilled, connected and financially empowered.
Further, it recently announced the development of a new way to make brewing more ecologically friendly by generating gas bubbles without boiling. This means beer can be brewed with less heat and water, reducing CO2 emissions.