Ask any beer lover and you'll learn that water is an essential ingredient of beer – there's simply no replacement for it. However, water is also one of the most important substances on the planet and finding ways to conserve water is vital. Many areas of the globe suffer from water shortages, and many companies have stepped up to help curb water waste.
Budweiser (through parent company InBev) has actually reduced the amount of water used in their brewing operations by 6%. This comes on the heels of last year's announcement, in which the company stated that they had reduced water consumption by 8.5% - a total of 14.5% in just two years.
The company has announced their goal is a complete reduction of water use by 18.6% by 2012, and they certainly seem to be on track with this. That would put InBev at 3.5 hectoliters of water per hectoliter of beer production.
Many of the company's breweries are already at their 2012 goal, or very close to it. InBev's most efficient plant is located in Cartersville, Georgia, where the goal has already been met. Their brewery in Germany is also already operating at their 2012 efficiency rating, and their Chinese brewery is set to achieve that goal later in 2011.
Reducing water usage and waste during the brewing process requires that InBev take several steps. For instance, they have created awareness campaigns to help improve employee awareness of the global water situation, as well as investing in higher efficiency equipment, such as narrow-nozzle bottle washers, improved startup/shutdown procedures and several other key areas.
InBev's water plan is only one part of their "Better World" campaign. This campaign is designed to reduce water consumption, reduce emissions and improve energy use by 10% in 2012. Carbon emissions are also slated to be reduced by 2012, and the company has stated that their goal is to have a 99% recycling rate throughout the entire company, as well.
While InBev is certainly not the only brewery in the world that has made a concerted effort to improve the planet and increase sustainability, they have been one of the most successful. One of their competitors, MillerCoors failed to meet their own water use goals, and other companies have only made a minimal effort here. Of course, InBev is not the "greenest" brewery in the world – that title goes to several microbreweries, but they are one of the greenest major breweries and have set an example for the industry.