Joe Dermody talks PJ Tierney, Heineken’s brewery operations manager, and Sandy Boundy, Heineken Ireland communications and CSR manager.
COLLABORATION has played a key part in Heineken Ireland achieving its target of zero waste to landfill, its 55% cut in CO2 emissions as well as other environmental goals, and its many local community engagements.
Perhaps the most remarkable feature in the company’s 2017 Sustainability Report, ‘Brewing a Better World in Ireland’, is the fact its reductions of CO2 (-6%), water (-7%) and its reduction of truck journeys (-19%) were achieved despite a rise in sales across its ever expanding product range.
A decade ago, when Heineken began logging its key environmental impacts, the Lady’s Well brewery in Cork was producing four beers. It now produces 13 beverages in Cork, including Heineken, Tiger, Coors Light, Fosters, Murphy’s and Beamish stouts, as well as Appleman’s and Orchard Thieves ciders, among others.
Its new alcohol-free beer Heineken 0.0%, released in April, has been an instant hit as a response to Irish consumers’ need to live a balanced lifestyle. Its range of specialty beers includes Affligem, Paulaner, Moretti, Zywiec and Cute Hoor.
Industry people would expect the greater sales volumes and greater production complexity (washing the plant for multiple products, etc) to drive up water usage, CO2 and transport impacts. The opposite has been the case.
In fact, CO2 emissions have been cut by 55% versus the 2010 baseline year. The company’s global target is a 40% reduction by 2020. The Cork site is well ahead of target.
In 2018, the company will convert all lighting in the Lady’s Well brewery to LED, resulting in 74% more efficiency and annual savings of 77%.
“The Lady’s Well site has been a brewery for over 160 years. We’re working on an Evolution Road Map which we hope will see this tradition continue for another 160 years,” said Sandy Boundy, communications and CSR (corporate social responsibility) manager at Heineken Ireland.
“Our sustainability commitment is right across the company, and in collaborating with business partners and local communities. We have a very holistic approach to sustainability, which is part of our ‘Brewing a Better World’ strategy.
“This year has been all about collaborating with our partners and stakeholders to become a truly green brewer. It’s only through working with others we can hope to hit our ambitious targets. Throughout this year’s report there are examples of sustainability achievements we’ve only been able to unlock thanks to this collaborative approach.”
PM Group and Greenstar worked with Heineken on the waste characterisation study which led to the company achieving zero waste to landfill in June 2017. Everything is recovered and recycled.
The watching brief runs from the big production markers of CO2, water and transport fuel, through to recycled printing paper and coffee cups, as well as the auditing of all merchandising. All new suppliers sign up to a code that covers three targets: integrity, human rights and the environment.
Of course, these actions have also reduced operating costs.
“We reduced our electricity and thermal usage by 6% in 2017,” said PJ Tierney, Heineken’s brewery operations manager in Cork. “We are self-sufficient in CO2 having installed a new CO2 recovery plant in 2015.
“We have a much bigger plan for CO2 with our ‘Drop the C’ renewable energy programme. Our Cork plant is in the top 25% of the most efficient Heineken breweries globally.”
Efficiency and environmental commitments go hand in hand. In the longer term, the company will also look at the feasibility of more environmentally friendly transport options, keeping one eye on progress in hybrid and electric vehicles.
By 2030, 70% of energy used in Heineken Ireland’s production will come from renewables.
It buys renewable electricity from Sonnagh Old Wind Farms in Galway. It does not buy unbundled renewable energy certs. Instead it is looking at all renewable energy solutions to reduce dependency on fossil fuels.
Sustainability, it seems, starts within. Heineken’s staff were instrumental in driving a 29% reduction in the accident frequency rate across the company in 2017 versus 2016.
“Sustainability is a mind-set shared by people across the company,” said Sandy Boundy. “A lot of the environmental and efficiency initiatives come from ideas suggested by members of staff. That’s also true of our community commitments. We have an 18-year relationship with Cork Simon Community.
“Our staff members are also working with GIY (Grow It Yourself) on a bespoke GIY@Work programme — #StarGrowers. Last July, 50 members of our staff worked with three communities to work on ‘star gardens’ in Cork. Like our sustainability actions within our own office, we see urban greening initiatives as symbols of our commitments to the environment and to people living in our communities.”
Heineken Ireland spends €100m annually supporting more than 1,000 local suppliers and service providers. A full 100% of its malted barley is sourced from Irish farmers.
In 2017, Heineken Ireland and its staff contributed more than €500,000 through their 50 or more community connections. The company is part of CSR group Business in the Community Ireland, as well as Bord Bia’s Origin Green programme.
Heineken is also deeply committed to the wellbeing of consumers. Each year, it invests 10% of its Heineken media spend on responsible consumption, notably on its ‘When You Drive, Never Drink’ campaign.
Heineken Ireland employs more than 400 people. Since its foundation in 2012, the Heineken Cares fund has donated more than €150,000 to charities nominated by staff members.
For comprehensive insights on the sustainability commitments of Heineken Ireland and its staff, see the ‘Brewing a Better World in Ireland’ report on its website.