Barbara-Anne Richardson says Heineken’s decade-long commitment to being a sustainable and green brewer is what convinced her to join the firm, writes Pádraig Hoare
Heineken Ireland’s commitment to sustainability and local community was the key to enticing Barbara-Anne Richardson as its new communications and sustainability manager last year.
A highly-respected and visible presence in Cork’s business community as Cork’ Chamber’s director of membership development and services previously, Ms Richardson said it would have to be a firm backing up its sustainable practices with results and commitment to community to entice her away.
“Sustainability tends to lead my role, because there is more and more of a focus on it in the business. I’m very fortunate because when researching the role, I was very comfortable in the fact that Heineken was very credible in this space, through the Better World strategy that you see. That has been in place globally for 10 years.
“I’ve been very fortunate. Having spent eight years at Cork Chamber, there was always that sense of purpose, that was bigger than you or the organisation. I feel very fortunate to move to a company that takes it so seriously and is really delivering results.
“We are in the thick of it, knowing what changes we can make can have the types of impact,” Ms Richardson said.
Heineken Ireland last week published its 2018 Sustainability Report which saw the brewer achieve a 58% reduction in CO2 production since 2008, far exceeding its own 20% target. This achievement underscores its 10-year commitment to be a sustainable and green brewer under its global sustainability strategy, Brewing a Better World, the firm said.
In 2018, as part of its sustainability plans, Heineken focused on cutting emissions produced by electricity at its 163 year-old Lady’s Well Brewery in the heart of Cork city.
One hundred percent of the electricity used to power the production of its beers and ciders now comes from a green, zero-emissions wind-powered source, the Raheen wind farm in Mayo.
Some 6% less water is used to produce each litre of beer, making Heineken Ireland’s Lady’s Well Brewery one of the most water efficient in its global network.
It replaced its total forklift fleet with new electrically powered forklift trucks at the brewery in the heart of Cork City, with a reduction in carbon footprint of 112 tonnes per year, or the equivalent of taking almost 10 family cars off the road.
“The carbon reduction is a massive result, and that helps us with the statistics, but when you actually see the forklifts in operation, they have managed to hit a number of principles for us, in terms of noise production.
“The brewery is right here in the centre of Cork, in an amazing location. But we have to be very mindful of our neighbours and there is significant noise reduction with the forklifts, and a huge amount of increased safety measures. The drivers have been waxing lyrical about the performance of the forklifts, and how easy it is to drive them. They were bespokely made for Heineken.
“We have noise measurement throughout the site, and it is a continuous key performance indicator for us,” Ms Richardson said.
The installation of an LED energy efficient lighting system throughout the site reduced energy consumption by more than 400,000 KwH, the equivalent of fully powering 45 family homes for a year.
“It just shows the difference businesses can make when they take on board some of these changes. All of the lighting across the brewery was changed to the more efficient LED lighting. Again, this was not the sole aim of the project, but safety measures were also increased because of the increased visibility throughout the site. It has been a double effect. Obviously health and safety is part of our sustainability strategy, but it is also our lead value here,” she added.
Heineken Ireland is a member of corporate social responsibility group Business in the Community, and was the first drinks business in Ireland to get the Business Working Responsibly mark.
“That’s an independent audit done, with only 33 companies in Ireland that have that mark. This was a significant milestone. As a follow on, Heineken Ireland chose to sign a low carbon pledge, one of 47 companies. It has really demonstrated leadership in that space.
“Of the 47 companies that completed the audit, four companies were showcased, with Heineken Ireland one of those.”
Raising €480,000 in funding to 52 community causes throughout Ireland including partnerships with social enterprise’s Walk in Dublin and Down Syndrome Cork’s Field of Dreams in Cork is a source of particular satisfaction, according to Ms Richardson.
“The people I have met with through the business are unsung heroes. They are seeking out ways to make an impact that is so impressive. It is a really rewarding role to be in,” she said.