I’m a little behind on running this one, and I’ve seen some other pointers around the web to this news as well. The cynical part of me, naturally, wonders how this ties in with all the InBev-related news. But, it’s good for the environment and for a company as large as A-B with the kind of impact they have, it’s a good thing.
One in Seven Anheuser-Busch Beers Will Be Brewed Using Alternative Fuels by End of 2009
More than five billion 12-oz. servings of beer – or about one in seven beers brewed by Anheuser-Busch in the United States – are expected to be brewed using renewable fuel by the end of 2009*, thanks to environmental efforts at the company’s 12 U.S. breweries. The company’s breweries in Houston and Fairfield, Calif., are currently installing alternative energy technology that will be operational by year end, and as a result the company’s U.S. breweries will run on more than 15 percent renewable fuel.
The Houston brewery will use biogas from a nearby landfill as part of an alternative fuel plan that when combined with the facility’s bio-energy recovery system (BERS), is anticipated to provide more than 70 percent of the brewery’s fuel needs. The Fairfield brewery will use BERS, a technology that turns brewing wastewater into fuel, and receive electricity from solar panels being hosted on-site.
“We have a long history of protecting and preserving the environment, and these projects will move us closer to our goal of running our U.S. operations on 15 percent renewable fuel by 2010,” said Doug Muhleman, group vice president, Brewing Operations and Technology, Anheuser-Busch, Inc. “It’s part of our pledge to be better environmental stewards of the world we share.”
Anheuser-Busch has entered into an agreement with Ameresco McCarty Energy to purchase biogas from Allied Waste Services’ McCarty Road Landfill in Houston, making use of an alternative fuel source for the company’s local brewery. The biogas is a natural byproduct of waste decomposition at the landfill. Currently, some of the biogas from the McCarty Road Landfill is being captured, processed and sold to a local utility, while the excess is flared (burned without energy recovery). Ameresco plans to capture some of that unused biogas and transport it to the Anheuser-Busch brewery through a six-mile underground pipeline.
The Fairfield brewery will generate 15 percent of its fuel needs from a Bio-Energy Recovery System (BERS) that is currently under construction. BERS technology turns nutrients in brewing wastewater into renewable biogas that is used to decrease the use of natural gas. In addition, the Fairfield brewery has entered into an agreement with SunEdison to host a solar power plant on the brewery’s property. The solar energy system will generate the equivalent of approximately 3 percent of the brewery’s electricity needs and also generate Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) for businesses or individuals to purchase to offset their use of fossil fuel energy and greenhouse gas emissions. The 1.18 megawatt (DC) photovoltaic system will be constructed during the late summer.
Once the Houston and Fairfield projects are operational, 10 of Anheuser-Busch’s 12 U.S. breweries will be producing renewable fuel. Plans are currently underway to construct the 11th BERS in Williamsburg, Va., in 2009. The company’s brewery in Fort Collins, Colo., does not operate a BERS but applies nutrient-rich brewery wastewater to nearby land to grow crops that can be turned into biofuel. Anheuser-Busch is also exploring the use of wind, solar, wood and landfill gas at several other breweries.
Anheuser-Busch’s 12 U.S. breweries also recycle or reuse more than 99 percent of the solid waste from their brewing and packaging processes – a tradition that began in the late 1800s when the company first recycled brewers’ grain into cattle feed. This amounted to nearly four billion pounds of materials such as spent grain, beechwood chips, plastic, glass cullet, cardboard and metal in 2007. In addition, employees are encouraged to look for ways to conserve energy, water and raw materials in daily operations at the breweries and learn how to conserve energy and recycle at home through environmental fairs and the company’s annual “Green Week,” a yearly tradition dating back to 1990.
“We have great employees who work hard every day to ensure our breweries are conserving water, energy and raw materials as part of our Blue Ocean initiative, an enhanced productivity plan to deliver more than $1 billion in savings through 2010,” Muhleman said. “With our Blue Ocean project, we’re examining everything we do to make sure we are brewing our beers in a way that’s efficient, considers our environmental impacts and maintains the high standards of quality our customers expect when they drink a Budweiser.”
As a member of the U.S. EPA Climate Leaders Program, Anheuser-Busch has committed to reduce total greenhouse gas emissions to 5 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2010 for all of its U.S. operations. Using EPA standards, this reduction in total greenhouse gas emissions is the equivalent of taking nearly 30,000 passenger vehicles off the road or heating more than 14,000 homes. In addition, the company has also committed to increasing the total use of renewable fuel from 8 percent to 15 percent in the same time period.
Based in St. Louis, Anheuser-Busch is the leading American brewer, holding a 48.5 percent share of U.S. beer sales. The company brews the world’s largest-selling beers, Budweiser and Bud Light. Anheuser-Busch also owns a 50 percent share in Grupo Modelo, Mexico’s leading brewer, and a 27 percent share in China brewer Tsingtao, whose namesake beer brand is the country’s best-selling premium beer. Anheuser-Busch ranked No. 1 among beverage companies in FORTUNE Magazine’s Most Admired U.S. and Global Companies lists in 2008. Anheuser-Busch is one of the largest theme park operators in the United States, is a major manufacturer of aluminum cans and one of the world’s largest recyclers of aluminum cans. For more information, visit www.anheuser-busch.com.
* “More than five billion 12-ounce servings” and “about one in seven beers brewed by Anheuser-Busch” are figures derived from taking the company’s U.S. beer production in 2007, converting it to equivalent 12-ounce servings and multiplying the figure by the estimated percentage of renewable fuel the company plans to use at its U.S. breweries in 2009.