Anheuser-Busch is no stranger to sustainability. Listed at the top of the charts for brewing companies across both the U.S. and the globe, Anheuser-Busch holds a nearly 50% share of U.S. beer sales to retailers. With that title comes a leadership obligation, one that the company has taken seriously when it comes to sustainability efforts in the beverage industry.

According to their website, Anheuser-Busch focuses primarily on water, energy, and recycling as part of their sustainability efforts across their global operations. The brewer has reduced water use by 45% in the past decade and has a 99.6% recycling rate across their twelve U.S. breweries. Anheuser-Busch also committed to reducing carbon emissions in their logistics operations by 15% by the end of 2017, which would be a first for the brewing industry. Claudio Braz Ferro, Anheuser-Busch InBev's Chief Supply Officer, estimates that this effort will reduce 230,000 tons of carbon emissions – enough to power nearly 21,000 homes in the U.S.

We had the opportunity to visit Anheuser-Busch’s Los Angeles brewery recently, thanks to a tour set up through the U.S. Zero Waste Business Council, where we were able to see the company’s sustainable operations first hand.

Here are a few things we learned on our visit to the brewery:

  • The Los Angeles brewery has a 99.84% diversion from landfills for solid waste, a number they have maintained for the last decade.
  • Twelve million pounds of expended grain is sold each year to farmers in California to feed their cattle.
  • Eight million pounds of yeast is sold each year to producers of dog food.
  • The company composts beechwood chips at the local Viramontes facility.
  • Pioneered at the Los Angeles brewery, Anheuser-Busch saves over 24 million trees each year by removing partitions from their bottled beer cartons.
  • 3 barrels of water are required to brew 1 barrel of beer, a significant decrease from the 7 barrels of water previously required to brew a barrel of beer.
  • The Los Angeles brewery was the first in North America to scrub and deodorize C02, capture it, and reuse it in their facility.
  • They now do the same with water, capturing and reusing it in their facility.
  • The company has a program called Excellence Through Ideas (ETI), where employees can share ideas on how to increase efficiency and sustainability efforts at their breweries.

In 2014, Anheuser-Busch set eight goals they plan to achieve by 2017 as part of their continued sustainability efforts. The goals range from reducing packaging materials by 100,000 tons to engaging in watershed protection measures at 100% of their facilities in key areas. You can view the full list of their goals here.

By taking a holistic approach to sustainability across their global operations, Anheuser-Busch hopes to influence business partners across their supply chain to consider their own environmental initiatives.

Thanks for hosting us, Anheuser-Busch!

Image: Anheuser-Busch
This is part four of our series this month on sustainability in the beverage industry.