Commitments & Sector Progress

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Commitments & Sector Progress

Commitments & Sector Progress

The beer and pub sector is committed to reducing its environmental impact and in playing a direct role in tackling the impact of climate change. This is demonstrated through the Brewing Green commitments and which reflect the ongoing work to support a sustainable beer and pub sector.

Brewing Green Commitments 2021:

Since the last edition of Brewing Green was published in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought an existential impact on our nations beer and pub industries. Despite this, the sector remains committed to reducing its environmental impact and in playing a direct role in tackling the impact of climate change. The following commitments reflect the ongoing work to support a sustainable beer and pub sector and to limit environmental impacts as far as possible:

  • To improve the sector’s energy efficiency and work towards becoming a decarbonised sector in advance of Government’s 2050 ambition

Brewing in particular is an energy intensive sector. As part of their commitments to sustainable operation, the UK’s brewers have successfully demonstrated an ability to consistently deliver improvements in energy efficiency and reduced carbon emissions. From 2018, the sector had already exceeded planned 2020 targets for both, and taking into account the latest data for the year 2019/2020 the sector has delivered an overall 35% reduction in carbon emissions since 2008, and a further 6% reduction from 2018.

For energy efficiency, the impacts of the pandemic have been felt through production inefficiencies caused as a result of breweries producing less beer. However, even despite this impact, we are pleased to report that the sector has achieved an overall 21% reduction in energy efficiency since 2008 and which remains ahead of our 2020 target.

Brewers and pub businesses across the UK are now turning their attention to an ambitious pathway to net-zero and as well as working to decarbonise their own businesses, to also work collaboratively towards the significant challenges involved in decarbonising their supply chains. Whilst challenging, the sector is committed to this journey and to working to deliver the sector’s ambitions ahead of the Governments own target of a net-zero economy by 2050.

  • To continue to reduce water usage and improve the quality of water returned to the environment

By volume water represents the most significant ingredient in beer. Whilst it does not have a direct impact on flavour, without it, enjoying a well earned pint would not be possible! Aside from its use as a key ingredient, water also has numerous other uses in brewing and therefore its importance cannot be overstated.

Given our dependancy on this precious, natural resource brewers are mindful of the need to be as water efficient as possible and have been working to achieve a target of less than 4 litres of water to produce a litre of beer. We are proud to say that the sector has consistently exceeded this target since 2015 and, even taking into account the impact of the pandemic across 2020, has maintained an average of 3.7 litres of water to every litre of beer.

From tracking water use since the early 90’s, the sector does now appear to have reached a level from which wider scale modernisation will be required in order to achieve greater efficiencies. However, this will be something that we will be looking to understand going forward and in order to continue the momentum built over recent years. 

  • To reduce the environmental impact of packaging

As well as focusing on the sustainability of their beer, brewers are equally concerned with the use of packaging. 

Draught beer continues to represent the most sustainable packaging format. Over 90% of beer sold in British pubs is sold through kegs and casks which are returned to our breweries for reuse for up to 30 years.

In terms of single unit packaging such as bottles and cans and additional co-packaging materials such as cardboard, shrink wrap and pallets, the industry has made significant investments in reducing the quantity of materials used and in working to support the ambitious targets of packaging manufacturers. This includes working to increase recycling rates, reduced use of plastics, increasing the quantity of recycled materials being used in packaging and most recently exploring moves to more sustainable materials such as bio-polymers and paper.

The UK brewing and pub sectors have also committed to delivering a world-class deposit return scheme in Scotland and ultimately across the UK. The BBPA has played a key role in the establishment of, and is a founder member in, Circularity Scotland Ltd, which has been appointed to run the scheme in Scotland. The scheme will lead to increased quality of recyclate for reuse, over 90% recycling rates and a reduction in litter.

  • To aim for zero product waste to landfill

The brewing industry is a good example of the ‘circular economy’ in action. Ingredients vital for brewing continue to represent value in other sectors after their primary use and in particular in farming as a source of animal feed, with yeast passed on for Marmite (and other food supplements and products).

The sector is constantly looking for new ways to reduce waste further and to achieve  ‘zero waste’ to landfill by finding ever more innovative ways to put the byproducts from the brewing process to good use. Since 2014 the sector has reported year on year reduction in the production of waste accompanied by an increase in the percentage of recovered waste and which for 2019 stands at 99%.

  • To ensure that environmental best practice is implemented throughout the value chain and in collaboration with supply chain partners

For the brewing and pub sector, environmental best practice is vital throughout the supply chain from grain to glass. This means considering environmental impacts from the British farmers who grow the hops and barley, suppliers of ingredients and other raw materials through beer production to the logistics and distribution network and finally into retail and to the consumer enjoying a delicious pint of beer in the pub.

With as much as 90% of the sectors carbon emissions caught within the beer and pub supply chain, working collaboratively with customer, partners and stakeholders across this value chain will be vital to achieving the sectors net-zero ambitions and in tackling the impacts of climate change.

  • To support pubs in improving energy efficiency, increasing recycling rates and reducing waste

The pub sector continues to work hard to respond to consumer interest in sustainability, to make green issues a central part of operations and to actively reduce carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.

It takes natural resources, energy and time to produce our food. British pubs produce more than 200,000 tonnes of food waste every year, 75% of which could have been eaten.  Besides the financial cost to businesses (avoidable food waste adds £0.14 per meal), every gramme of food wasted required the equivalent of over 3 grammes of CO2e to produce. The production of food that ends up being wasted adds unnecessary GHGs to the atmosphere and contributes directly to global warming.

Improvements in energy efficiency are a further challenge for the sector and particularly given the age and location of many of our cherished pubs across the UK. Whilst many operators have made significant strides to improve energy efficiency by switching to LED lighting or installing smart meters to better understand demand, there remains significant challenges ahead. 

Undaunted by this task, breweries and pub companies across the UK are supporting a new roadmap to net-zero for the hospitality sector, developed by the Zero Carbon Forum and supported by BBPA to help guide and advise operators on their journey to net zero.