Setting ‘easy’ environmental targets not in AB InBev’s DNA

Budweiser is one of AB InBev's biggest brands (Picture Credit: Christina Rutz/Flickr)

A top Anheuser Busch InBev (AB InBev) exec tells BeverageDaily.com that challenging targets are crucial for the firm as he defends its lack of a ‘total target’ for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

A fortnight ago Budweiser brandowner AB InBev launched a seven-point environmental commitment plan that involves substantial real terms cuts in packaging use to 2017 (against a 2012 baseline) and greenhouse gas, energy and water savings per hectolitre of beer produced.

After BeverageDaily.com broke then news last week – noting the absence of overall targets for greenhouse gas emissions and water use over this period, Bert Share, AB InBev director beer & better world, got in touch to explain the basis for the brewer's targets.

Grupo Modelo takeover effect

“We’re more focused on per hectolitre of production, because our business can change quite rapidly,” Share said.

“For us, the total reduction target is a really hard to set one, as you can imagine, given what happened with [Grupo] Modelo this year and in the last week [after AB InBev finally completed the acquisition of the Mexican brewing giant],” Share added.

It’s just really hard to take these into account. Of course, we would love to reduce our impact, but when we have big changes in our business it’s nearly impossible to commit to something like that.

Share explained that AB InBev measures and discloses carbon and water usage annually via UK-based NGO the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP).

“They rate us, and we get points deducted because we don’t have a total greenhouse gas target,” he explained.

Share added: “We point that out to them [the CDP] as well. Some businesses reduce their total because they shut plants down, reduce business, and I think we just need to be careful with that.”

(BeverageDaily.com understands that Heineken, SAB Miller and MillerCoors do not have total greenhouse gas emission targets either, although Diageo and The Coca-Cola Company do.)

Heineken also sets per hectolitre targets

For instance, in 2012, the world’s No.2 brewer Heineken hit an average greenhouse gas emission target of <8.5kg CO2-eq/hl in 2012 by achieving a 8.4kg CO2-eq/hl release on average last year.

 “But for us there’s just no way we [AB InBev] can set a total target – because we don’t know what our business is going to look like. For other companies, I’m not sure quite how they do it,” Share said.

“We could set an easy [total] target if we wanted to – one that we know we’re going to meet – and but that’s not in our DNA. We set targets that really try to push the zones and plants around the world.”

CDP director of communications, Penny Cross, told this publication that the NGO did feel it was preferable for companies to set definitive global emissions reduction targets.

“Obviously there are specifics within different sectors, which choose their own metrics in terms of deciding the most important comparable for their sectors,” Cross added.

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