Brewing sector joins new EU environment footprint initiative

Written by Pierre-Olivier Bergeron on 3 June 2014 in News
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Pierre-Olivier Bergeron outlines brewers' lead role in developing sustainable business practices throughout the EU.

The EU represents a global forerunner in all things sustainable, consistently exploring opportunities for self-improvement and inspiring other regions to do the same.

During the EU's Green Week from 3 to 5 June, those at the helm of the EU are considering new ways to reduce Europe's environmental footprint. Industry has a significant, yet sometimes undervalued, role to play in helping the EU achieve its environmental objectives.

By selecting The Brewers of Europe as one of its preferred partners in a new landmark product environment footprint (PEF) initiative, the European commission recognises the contribution that Europe's brewers have to make in the development of innovative and sound environmental solutions.

"The expertise and technical know-how of industry actors can help lead to solutions that are easily implemented on the ground and encourage self-regulation and compliance"

Moreover, the expertise and technical know-how of industry actors can help lead to solutions that are easily implemented on the ground and encourage self-regulation and compliance.

This PEF pilot project seeks to identify the feasibility of a systematic methodology for calculating the environmental footprint of food and beverage products. In close cooperation with the European commission, we will lend our considerable expertise in, and knowledge of, the brewing supply chain to explore the development of an innovative tool that supports the sustainable production of beer.

It is our hope that this project can also inspire and support other food and beverage sectors in their product sustainability efforts. I personally believe that we can discover many untapped synergies, in the realm of energy efficiency for example, through approaching the project from a comprehensive life-cycle perspective.

This initiative represents just one element of brewers' wider efforts in sustainability. We have already made clear progress in how we use our resources to the benefit of the environment and consumers. For instance, between 2008 and 2010, Europe's brewers used, on average, 4.5 per cent less water and 3.8 per cent less energy for each litre of beer produced.

No mean feat when you think that around 40 billion litres of beer are brewed in the EU each year. Brewers also achieved over the same period a reduction of 7.1 per cent in CO2 emissions. Brewers' grains, a secondary product produced during the brewing process, are also used in bread, yeast extract, paper, bricks and animal feed, with enough grain produced annually to feed up to 2.4 million cattle.

"The integration of strong environmental principles into our entire value chain leads to lower costs and a higher quality of product"

Of course sustainability is also good business. The integration of strong environmental principles into our entire value chain leads to lower costs and a higher quality of product. The Brewers already work with other drinks producers in the context of the beverage industry environmental roundtable to advance environmental sustainability, and this is why we jumped at the opportunity to lead this new PEF pilot project.

We consider this a chance to further fulfil our corporate social responsibility and, at the same time, meet the expectations of consumers, policymakers and shareholders. Sustainable business practices allow brewers to continue as a cornerstone of the European economy, contributing €51.5bn in added value annually and generating over two million jobs.

Sustainability is the way forward, and we greatly look forward to taking part in the PEF project.

About the author

Pierre-Olivier Bergeron is secretary general of The Brewers of Europe

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