Water is an essential ingredient in our products, and other key ingredients, such as grain and hops, need it to grow. Put simply, no water means no beer. Our focus on pushing the boundaries of efficiency and technology is both a business and a sustainability priority.
Industries like ours have a big role to play in safeguarding water supplies wherever we operate. That is why we have set ambitious global targets for ZERO Water Waste.
By 2030, we aim to halve the amount of water used to make every hectolitre of beer. Throughout the Carlsberg Group, we have already achieved an 18% reduction through best-practice efficiency and water treatment upgrades at our breweries and we will accelerate progress with water-recycling technology.
In 2020, the Carlsberg Group updated our water risk assessment for 81 of our 86 majority-owned breweries and finalised a ground-breaking scenario analysis with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to prepare for future risks to our business. The findings will help us prioritise actions as we work with partners to protect and improve water supplies for the communities whose resources we share.
Investing in water stewardship helps us build strong relationships with communities and regulators and supports our licence to brew now and in the future.
The Carlsberg Group is committed to eliminating water waste from brewing through world-class efficiency and safeguarding shared water resources in high-risk areas.
Although Malaysia is not identified as a high-risk market, we continue to aim for a water-waste reduction of 30% by 2022 (3.4 hectolitres per hectolitre produced [hl/hl]), far more than the 25% target for 2022 and are in progress to achieve the targeted reduction of 50% by 2030.
We have or will undertake the following measures to reduce water usage from 2020 and beyond:
Improve water recovery from the reverse osmosis water treatment process to reduce losses.
Recycle and reuse water losses from the reverse osmosis and back-wash process in our water treatment plant.
Recycling of final discharge from wastewater treatment plant to be repurposed for non-production usage.
Improved shutdown procedure during idling or non-production time in packaging lines, similar to our efforts to reduce thermal energy waste.
Optimisation of water usage in packaging lines with a focus on bottle-washing machinery.
Since the 2019 reporting period, water usage for production, which covers all operations at our Shah Alam brewery, has been restated to include water treatment losses aligned with the Carlsberg Group’s reporting standards.
In 2020, the Group made good progress versus the previous reporting period with 4.3 hl/hl for water usage for production purposes, a 9.9% drop compared to 2019 (4.8 hl/hl). Contributing factors included improvement in reverse osmosis operations with recycling and reuse of filtered water discharge and backwash processes in progress at our water treatment plant. This water efficiency/reuse project is still under execution and is expected to be in full operation by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
Total water usage, covering administration and sales depot operations, also saw a corresponding drop at 4.76 hl/hl, 8.3% lower compared to 5.19 hl/hl in 2019.
In the last quarter of the year, we greatly improved water efficiency in our packaging line, specifically in our bottle washing operations with a reduction of almost 50% in the month of December.
Brewing operations continue to rely partly on a groundwater tube-well located at the brewery, supplementing council water supply and mitigating risks in the event of council water supply disruptions – an uncommonly frequent event in past years that can risk production targets in an industry where water is crucial.
As previously stated, internal studies have estimated that we can bring water usage below 3 hl/hl, which is lower than our 2022 target, with full reliance on council-supplied water. However, we are opting to retain the tube-well/council supply mix as full reliance on one source introduces operational and financial risks from supply disruptions.
CHEMICAL OXYGEN DEMAND (COD) IN WASTEWATER AFTER TREATMENT
Beyond water conservation, our commitment to preserve the integrity of natural waterways where our brewing operations are situated, remains, through minimising the impact of effluent released from our brewing operations.
In 2020, our chemical oxygen demand (COD) in wastewater after treatment increased to 0.022 kg/hl compared to 0.019 in 2019. The elevated number was due to the reduction in total treated effluent from the decline in production volume for the pandemic year, compounded by brewery suspensions mandated by law in 2020.
We remain within the legal standard of 0.080 mg/hl but have taken initiatives to curb COD levels, among which include maintaining reactor efficiency and implementing aerobic stage improvements in 2021, such as replacing conventional surface aerators to diffuser-type aerators to improve efficiency.