By Kunal Sawhney, CEO of Kalkine (www.kalkine.co.uk)
The brewing industry has historically been termed as one of those that negatively impact climate. However, things have drastically changed with substantial technological advancements in the industry over the past decades.Though the industry still has a huge environmental footprint and has a long way to go green, it has been putting all the right efforts in this direction.
Brewing a traditional business in the UK
In the UK, beer has a long history with diverse traditions. Before the second world war, top-fermented Bitters, Porters, Stouts, and Milds were the major styles, but lagers had over half of the market’s total volume later. Founded in 1971, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) helped in preserving and revitalizing the traditional styles of ale.
In terms of the number of breweries, the industry has witnessed significant growth from 2012 to 2020. From 1,218 breweries in 2012, the number has gone up to 3,018 breweries in 2020, which has been the strongest growth rate ever seen by the industry. In 2021, the UK’s beer industry came to a saturation point after witnessing an increase in the number of breweries for many years, which was mainly driven by the growth of small and microbreweries making craft beers.The turnover of UK beer manufacturers stood at less than £7.7 billion in 2009, which grew over a period of ten years and touched £8.78 billion in 2019.
Brewing getting green every day
The highly popular ingredients used in the production of alcoholic beverages include sugar, grapes, barley, hops, and wheat, which are among the most water-intensive as well as energy-intensive crops in the world.The brewing industry is a huge consumer of water and produces a lot of solid and liquid waste and by-products that harm the environment. In addition to water consumption and waste generation, the industry also contributes heavily towards air pollution with its emissions.
Amid the growing concerns about climate change, the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), which is the leading trade body in the UK that represents brewers and pubs, recently launched a new website called ‘Brewing Green’, which reveals the efforts of its members towards minimising the overall environmental footprint of the UK brewing industry.The website showcases over 35 case studies from UK pubs, brewers, and supply chain firms which describe the steps taken by them to tackle the issue of climate change and help the UK achieve its planned net-zero targets.
BBPA’s CEO Emma McClarkin stated that Brewing Green’s latest web-based version would conveniently allow the stakeholders to track the journey of the sector towards net zero.The idea of minimising the environmental footprint is emphasised by the website and the initiatives of some of the largest UK pubs and breweries are featured on it, which include Heineken, Greene King, Asahi, and St Austell.
In addition to brewery and pub operators, the initiatives of the companies which are related to these businesses are also a part of the website.These may include suppliers of raw materials and ingredients to the sector.The roadmaps to net-zero goals of both the hospitality and the brewing industry are included on the website. Regular updates to the website would be carried out as new initiatives are taken by the businesses, which may include waste management, recycling, and transition to renewable energy.
The Brewing industry has a significant environmental footprint, and it is working towards reducing its contributions to climate change.The industry has been stepping up and taking initiatives in the fields of emission management, waste generation, and energy efficiency. As stated by McClarkin, the industry may potentially achieve its net-zero goal before the UK Government’s 2050 target.