As with most products, making alcoholic beverages generates waste at almost every stage of the product lifecycle. Where possible, we aim to reduce the volume of materials used, and reuse or recycle the waste from our operations in ways that bring benefits to our business, the environment, and local communities.
Minimising the waste from our production sites and offices is not only directly linked to cost savings, it has a cumulative effect on our efforts to reduce carbon emissions, water use, and other environmental impacts of our business.
The vast majority of our waste is non hazardous, including organic matter like yeast remaining from the brewing processes; kieselguhr, which is a soft rock used for filtration; and the pulped labels from the bottles which we recycle. Other waste streams include damaged packaging, sludge from wastewater treatment, boiler ash, and office waste.
Less than 0.5% of our total waste is hazardous; it includes oils, acids, bases, and construction waste. These are used subject to government regulations and environmental consents, and are disposed of through specialist contractors.
We aim to eliminate waste to landfill from our operations by 2015, and our strategy is based on five platforms.
Eliminating materials where possible
We can reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by eliminating certain materials from our operations. For example, new beer membrane filtration systems at a number of our breweries have eliminated the need to use kieselguhr.
Making our operations more efficient can reduce the overall amount of materials we use.
Finding agricultural uses for waste
Where opportunities exist, by-products from distilling and brewing that were once sent to landfill are now being used by farmers in animal feed.
Recycling packaging and other materials
Measures such as improved segregation methods can significantly reduce waste to landfill.
Recovering waste for energy
Where materials cannot be recycled, as a last resort we explore their potential for energy recovery through thermal combustion, working with partners using advanced technology to minimise the impact of converting waste to energy.
Our GREENiQ employee engagement programme has accelerated our progress by raising awareness of the need to reduce waste, as well as other environmental impacts, not only at our supply sites but also in our offices.
For specific information about the progress we are making against our waste target, please see our Annual Report.
In anticipation of our current targets coming to an end in 2015, we have created new Sustainability and Responsibility targets to 2020. To find out more click here.