Putting 'brewing green' at the heart of the European Green Deal

At this year's EU Green Week, The Brewers of Europe Sustainability Forum will show how beer can be central to a circular economy, writes Pierre-Olivier Bergeron.
Source: Brewers of Europe

By Pierre-Olivier Bergeron

Pierre-Olivier Bergeron is Secretary General of The Brewers of Europe

21 Oct 2020

Beer producers have long encouraged sustainable practices: in our processes, in our supply chains, and in how beer is consumed and enjoyed. It’s been called, among other things, ‘brewing green’. This is not just a turn of phrase, but a philosophy that strives for sustainability throughout our sector.

Now The Brewers of Europe, promoting the interests of over ten thousand European breweries, have set out to share expertise and leadership on how brewers large, medium, small and micro are contributing to European and global commitments to the environment. Our aim is that this is be not only an exercise in ‘thought leadership’ but a demonstration of leadership through real action.

The EU Green Deal remains one of the six cross-sectoral priorities for the European Commission, and The Brewers of Europe is a vital component of this initiative. Brewers take a ‘grain to glass’ strategy, where beer is interconnected with multiple sectors throughout the value chain. Before the coronavirus crisis hit, beer supported 1.7 million bar and restaurant jobs and added €24bn in value to the EU economy in the hospitality sector alone. Together with retail, suppliers, and breweries themselves, beer is accountable for 2.3 million jobs and €51bn in value added.

“We want to make sure that our sector is working for the good of the planet, not against it”

We want to make sure that our sector is working for the good of the planet, not against it. That all this activity for the production and enjoyment of beer is sustainable. By brewing with reduced emissions, conserving water, protecting biodiversity and transitioning to a circular economy, we can make a positive impact on the planet and society. Yes, the pandemic has been hugely disruptive and damaging to our sector in Europe. But our commitment to sustainability remains at the heart of our work and will continue to be part of the brewers’ ‘green recovery’.

The European institutions are also committed to this approach, and it will be a theme of the upcoming EU Green Week this October. Our own Virtual Sustainability Forum runs over two days from October 20 to 21, as one of the European Commission’s official partner events. Open to all and free of charge, it will feature the views of the European Parliament Beer Club and Commission representatives on how the EU’s Green Deal, Recovery Plan and Farm to Fork Strategy will impact the brewing sector and how beer can contribute.

We will also provide a platform for brewers and other value chain partners across the European continent to showcase their own commitments to sustainability, and share their best practices on brewing green – such as harnessing geothermal energy, returning nutrients to nature and innovative solutions for secondary products. The event will close with a high-level discussion amongst industry, political and civil society leaders on the outlook for beer within a green future.

Together, brewers’ ultimate goal is to demonstrate their commitment not only to helping the EU reach its objectives, but to enhancing these as an ambitious and sustainable sector.

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