Drinks giant confirms it is to extend net zero goals to cover value chain, as it provides update on 2025 sustainability goals

AB InBev has become the latest multinational to announce plans to achieve net zero emissions across its entire value chain, pledging to deliver net zero for its supply chain and product use and disposal by 2040.

The announcement formed part of an update on the brewing giant’s 2025 sustainability goals, which saw the company confirm that between 2017 and 2020 absolute greenhouse gas emissions from its operations reduced by nearly 25 per cent and while emissions from its value chain reduced by over 10 per cent per hectoliter.

The company said the emissions reductions were driven in part by the opening earlier this year of its first carbon neutral breweries in Wuhan, China, and Ponta Grossa, Brazil, as well as its first carbon neutral malthouse in Brazil. The projects are expected to provide a template for the company’s wider push to achieve net zero emissions.

In Europe, meanwhile, AB InBev said it has made “substantial progress” towards its 2025 climate target, having cut the carbon footprint across its 16 Western European breweries between 2017 and 2020 by 16 per cent, eliminating over 30,000 tonnes of CO2 from its operations. 

The business is now working to have net zero operations in five major breweries by 2028, with upgrades to the Magor and Samlesbury breweries in the UK in 2026 to be followed by improvements at the Leuven, Jupille and Bremen breweries in Belgium and Germany in 2028. The investment is set to reduce annual CO2 emissions by 110,740 tonnes, equivalent to the emissions of almost 35,000 cars, the company said.

“We have always relied on natural resources to brew our beer,” said Bart Grieten, VP Supply at AB InBev Europe. “And because we want to be brewing for many years to come, it’s vital that we protect and preserve those natural resources. Brewing great beers relies on a healthy environment and thriving communities. Sustainability is not just part of our business, it is our business – and it always will be.”

The company said its work to deliver net zero emissions in Europe was primarily focused on switching fuel sources and increasing energy efficiency at its facilities, and the company has identified 29 distinct technologies that “show great promise to contribute to the net zero ambition”.

For example, AB InBev’s UK business is exploring the deployment of zero emission green hydrogen at the Magor brewery in South Wales, one of the largest breweries in the UK. The project envisages hydrogen production facilities that will include a battery, hydrogen storage unit, and a hydrogen refuelling station used for HGVs that would serve to slash emissions at the site.

At the same time the company is ramping up investment in renewable electricity generation, having announced Europe’s largest ever corporate solar power deal with BayWa r.e. to build the Budweiser Solar Farm in Spain, which will enable it to brew all of its beers across Western Europe using renewable electricity by March 2022, as part of a virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA).

The project includes the development of two new solar sites in Spain, which are designed to provide 250 gigawatt hours of renewable electricity per year for AB InBev’s breweries across Europe as of 2022.

In addition, the company last week showcased its “Simmer & Strip” technology, which was invented in AB InBev’s global R&D Centre in Leuven, Belgium. The innovative process provides 80 per cent energy savings in the boiling phase of production and reduces brewing emissions by five per cent. AB InBev said patent has been shared with smaller brewers.

However, the company’s new net zero value chain target will now require it to step up work with farmers, other suppliers, and customers to help curb emissions from its full supply chain and the consumption and disposal of its projects.

As such, AB InBev indicated it would look to build on its efforts to use its products to encourage consumers to take climate action, having deployed its Budweiser brand to “champion a renewable electricity transition globally and empower consumers to choose renewables”.

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