Sustainability at MillerCoors requires brewing great beer while using less water in our processes. Three of our eight major breweries and parts of our agricultural supply chain are located in or near water-stressed regions, so we emphasize advancing water efficiency initiatives at these locations.
Water Usage in 2011
Meeting our high-performance goals to improve water efficiency has been a challenge. In 2011, we achieved a water-to-beer ratio of 4.07:1 averaged across our eight major breweries. The Fort Worth Brewery performed best with a 3.53:1 water-to-beer ratio. Five of our eight breweries achieved water-to-beer ratios under 4.00:1, which is below the industry average of 5.00:1.
We track our water usage and beer production separately at each of our breweries. Each year, we use those numbers to calculate a weighted average for the company’s overall water-to-beer ratio. Individual breweries that make relatively large volumes of beer each year have a greater influence on the companywide ratio. In 2011, two breweries producing larger volumes of beer had higher water-to-beer ratios than the six other breweries. That drove our average water-to-beer ratio to more than 4.00:1, despite five breweries recording significantly lower ratios.
Reducing Our Dependence on Water
As part of our sustainability strategy, we continuously investigate ways to reduce water usage in our breweries. Where possible, we are replacing water-dependent processes with new technologies and systems that do the same job, either with less water or without water entirely.
- Water reclamation system at Milwaukee Brewery: In 2011, MillerCoors completed construction of a $5 million new cooling system at the Milwaukee Brewery. The new system uses recirculated water rather than fresh incoming water, saving 100 million gallons of water annually — enough water to fill 1 billion 12-ounce cans.
- Dry lubricant at Fort Worth Brewery: We use lubricants on our packaging lines to allow bottles and cans to slide more easily along conveyor belts. As of August 2011, we converted all 10 of the Fort Worth packaging lines to use new waterless dry lubricants instead of the conventional water-based lubricants. The new dry lubricants will result in a projected savings of 10 million gallons of water annually — that is enough water to fill 200,000 bathtubs. We are working to implement the dry lubrication systems in all eight of our large breweries.
- Clean-In-place systems at Shenandoah Brewery: In 2011, employee-driven initiatives for two of the Shenandoah Brewery’s clean-in-place systems reduced water consumption by an estimated 1 million gallons per year. Employees cut rinse time in half in one system and eliminated a redundant pre-rinse in the second system. In both systems, we achieved the water savings without compromising cleaning standards.
- Ionic air rinser at Albany Brewery: In 2011 at our Albany Brewery, we changed the way we clean aluminum cans prior to filling them with beer. We replaced the existing water-based rinser with a new rinser that uses ionically-charged, compressed air to clean cans. By eliminating the conventional water rinse, the Albany Brewery will save an estimated 10 million gallons of water annually. As an added benefit, the new ionic rinser has improved operating line efficiency because the cans no longer stick together as they did when water was used. Plans are underway to roll out the new ionic air rinser to all MillerCoors breweries.
- Cold sanitization at Golden Brewery: Our Golden Brewery substituted bleach for hot water in our sterilization processes for three transfer lines in 2011. This cold sanitization method speeds up the sterilization process and more efficiently uses steam, electricity and water. By using bleach instead of hot water, we reduce our water usage by 2 percent for every barrel of beer processed through these three transfer lines. Golden Brewery is planning to convert additional lines to cold sanitization in 2012.