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Anheuser-Busch's beer gets greener

Posting in Energy

The mammoth brewer's Cartersville, Georgia, facility emerged as the company's most water-efficient facility in 2010.

The world's largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, says it managed a 6 percent reduction during 2010 (on a per hectoliteer basis) in the amount of water it takes to produce its beers and beverage products. For perspective, that is 16,000 Olympic swimming pools.

On average, last year, the company -- which brews the Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck’s brands to name a few -- used 4.04 hectoliters of water per hectoliter of production. According to the press release it issued this week, the company's brewery in Cartersville, Ga., is its most water-efficient: in 2010, the facility used an average of 3.04 hectoliters of water per hectoliter of production.

Anheuser-Busch InBev's three-year goal, which it announced in March 2010, is to achieve 3.5 hectoliters per hectoliter of beverage produced.

So how did the company manage the aforementioned reduction? Anheuser-Busch InBev points to its systemic framework of processes called the Voyager Plant Optimization, which sets measurable standards in place across its breweries. Two examples of how the company has reduced water waste: narrowing bottle-washing nozzle diameters and using reclaimed water for general cleaning tasks.

Aside from the Cartersville plant, the Wernigerode brewery in Germany has also reached -- and surpassed the 2012 water goal. That site uses 3.2 hectoliters of water per liter of production. Other countries where Anheuser-Busch InBev has managed double-digit improvements in reducing water usage: in Argentina the Corrientes brewery achieved a 14 percent from 2009 through a new manufacturing start-up and shutdown process; and in Bolivia, it reduced water use by 15 percent compared with 2009.

Aside from its water goals, Anheuser-Busch InBev is aiming for a 10 percent reduction in electricity consumption by the end of 2012 (compared with 2009). During the past year, it cut energy use by 3.7 percent on a per-hectoliter basis (again, compared with 2009 levels).

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Heather Clancy

Section Editor

Heather Clancy has written for United Press International, ZDNet, Entrepreneur, Fortune Small Business, the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times. She holds a degree from McGill University. She is based in New Jersey. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure