Heineken to reach net-zero in entire value chain by 2040

Alina Oprea
Heineken is building on a solid foundation in all the 3 main areas in its sustainability strategy, in every market where it operates, says Ana Crivăț, Director of Corporate Affairs, Heineken Romania. She talked to Green Forum about the company's sustainability goals for 2030 and about Heineken's responsible drinking campaigns. She says that approximately 70% of the company's suppliers are local and also the percentage of women represented in Heineken's management teams has doubled compared to a decade ago. At the local level, the company is implementing a series of initiatives to reduce heat and electricity consumption and replace fossil fuels with clean energy, with reduced emissions, and renewable energy. Heineken sets out to reach net zero carbon emissions in Scope1 and Scope2 processes and a 30% reduction in Scope3 processes by 2030, as well as to reach net-zero in the entire value chain by 2040.

What are the company's sustainability goals for 2030?

I am happy to share our vision on sustainability - such an important topic for us at Heineken and one of the pillars of our business strategy, EverGreen 2025. Globally, Heineken is the brewer with the largest geographical footprint, present in over 190 countries around the world, and this comes with great responsibility and also with a strong desire to contribute to a better world and a better future for the communities where we operate.

Over the past decade, our sustainability strategy has had a profound influence on our business. It has driven us to innovate and collaborate to protect the environment, support local communities, and make a positive impact on society. Two years ago, Heineken raised the bar in terms of sustainability commitments through the 'Brew a Better World 2030' strategy. This sets new global ambitions for sustainability and responsibility, which continue to be at the fore in our next chapter of growth.

"Brew a Better World 2030" focuses on 3 main dimensions.

In the Environmental area, we set out to achieve neutrality of carbon emissions in production by 2030, and in the entire value chain by 2040; we will maximize circularity, by zero waste sent to landfills, speeding up returnable packaging, and by reducing plastic in packaging. Water is also an important priority, both for our business and for communities. Thus, we have committed to reducing water consumption in production, to fully balance, by 2030, the water used in our products in areas with limited water resources, to maximize water recirculation.

In terms of Social impact, we continue to promote inclusion and diversity, gender balance, and work to create a fair and safe workplace for all our employees. At the same time, we want to have a positive impact outside our company, and in the communities, so we set out to develop every market initiative with a positive impact, supporting one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Last but not least, we are focused on Responsible Consumption: this means offering our consumers zero-alcohol options in all markets where we are present, showing transparency and zero tolerance for harmful alcohol consumption.

We are building on a solid foundation in all the 3 main areas of our sustainability strategy, in every market where we operate. Many of our departments are involved in making progress towards our goals, it is a process that requires a diversity of resources and, most of all, dedication.

What can you tell us about Heineken's responsible drinking campaigns?

One of the three main pillars of our sustainability strategy, "Brew a Better World 2030", is dedicated to responsible consumption. Through this strategic direction, the Heineken Group aims to promote moderate consumption and fight against the risks of alcohol abuse.

The global commitment made by Heineken in 2021 is to offer at least two 0.0 options in most of the markets where we operate by 2023. In Romania, we exceeded this goal, having seven 0.0 options, under four of our brands: Heineken®, Bira Moretti®, Golden Brau®, and Ciuc Radler®.

Moreover, as producers, we feel that we have an important role to play in promoting moderation. Our global strategy guides us to develop partnerships with prominent organizations in every market, in order to address harmful use through dedicated social programs. To that end, in Romania, we have a long-standing partnership of over 10 years with Aliat for Mental Health NGO, a reputable non-governmental association created by mental health specialists, active in the field of prevention and treatment of alcohol and drug abuse and addiction. Together we developed Alcohelp, the only program in Romania that includes several types of interventions in the field of problematic alcohol consumption (the online platform and the Alcohelp mobile application, the Alcoline telephone line, the AlcoInfo Centers in public hospitals, and many other prevention activities) with the aim of contributing to a better understanding by the Romanian population of personal limits regarding alcohol consumption and combats harmful consumption. Every year, this partnership acts through concrete information and intervention initiatives, such as the national testing of personal alcohol consumption using the AUDIT test, developed by the WHO, a successful project carried out at the national level since 2019.

In addition, our brands are important ambassadors for moderation – for instance, our brand, Heineken, annually invests 10% of its media budget, for responsible consumption campaigns.

What is Heineken's approach to protecting the environment?

The environment is one of the three pillars on which our sustainability strategy, "Brew a Better World 2030", is built, and it is the one that involves important steps on our part in the Supply Chain area (production, logistics). To protect the environment, we address the impact of our activity, with the aim of reducing our footprint and using resources responsibly.

We set out to reach net zero carbon emissions in Scope1 and Scope2 processes and a 30% reduction in Scope3 processes by 2030, as well as to reach "net zero" in the entire value chain by 2040. In this sense, at the local level, we are implementing a series of initiatives to reduce heat and electricity consumption and replace fossil fuels with clean energy, with reduced emissions, and renewable energy. Regarding packaging, our objective is to maximize circularity, by zero waste sent to the landfill, by accelerating returnable packaging, and by reducing plastic in secondary packaging.

Also in the environmental area, a priority is the efficient management of water - a vital resource. Thus, we continue to reduce water consumption in production, maximize the process of water reuse and recirculation, and fully balance the water used in our products in areas with limited resources. The investments we make in our factories also support the objective of making resource consumption more efficient, through technologies that help us reduce the energy or water consumed.

What actions has Heineken Romania already taken to reduce the emissions from its operations?

Decarbonization of production and the value chain is an important commitment for us at Heineken. This involves continuous efforts and close collaboration with all partners, in order to reduce carbon footprint „from barley to bar”, as we like to say.

We are on a good path towards this goal in Romania, with several directions we are addressing. On the one hand, we reduce electricity and heat consumption and become more efficient every year. We are also replacing fossil fuels with clean, low-carbon, and renewable energy. All the electricity we use in Heineken Romania already comes from green sources, for many years.

Heineken has also joined a consortium to secure additional renewable energy in Europe. Together with other partners, we have joined forces to support the development of 35 wind turbines in Mutkalampi, Finland, which will be completed in 2023. The VPPA (virtual power purchasing agreement) covers an estimated production volume of 330 GWh per year, equivalent to the annual electricity required for the consumption of 40,000 households. The project will help to avoid over 230,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.

At the same time, we eliminate any residual carbon footprint with projects that offset CO2 emissions. Decarbonization requires a sustained effort and a lot of determination. At the same time, technological developments come to our aid and we count on this in the years to come.

Moreover, we invest in the modernization of our production facilities, introducing new technologies that help reduce the consumption of resources as well as emissions. For instance, in 2022 we started the process of installing a new bottling line in our brewery in Miercurea Ciuc, increasing our production capacity. This in turn brings the product closer to the final consumer through local production and reduces imports. Implicitly, this fact leads to the reduction of the carbon footprint generated by transport activity. In addition, the new technology used for this bottling line helps reduce energy consumption.  Investment in innovation is, therefore, an important part of our strategy to reduce emissions.

What do you think should be done in Romania to develop the circular economy?

Public awareness and ensuring the necessary infrastructure are two essential aspects. I believe that Romania will make great progress in the coming years.

In this regard, we mention a very important project at the national level – the Deposit Return System for packaging – which we, Heineken, also support as members of the local beverage industry. Once implemented, this system will significantly reduce waste thrown into the environment and support material recycling. The positive impact will be significant, including in terms of reducing CO2 and methane emissions, as less energy will be needed to produce the same amount of glass or plastic containers. DRS is a great project and we are all focused on its implementation; the sooner we have it the better for all of us.

Moreover, at Heineken, we support companies, NGOs, or other entities that develop circular economy projects. Therefore, a great example would be the „Litter Trap” project, a circular economy project, developed in partnership with GreenGroup and supported by Heineken Romania. This project received industry recognition and was awarded this year in the Environment category, within the Romanian CSR Awards Competition. The „Litter Trap” is dedicated to combating environmental pollution, by transforming waste into secondary raw materials. The device, made of recycled plastic, is placed on the Crișul Repede river and the recyclable materials recovered from the river are transformed into new products. In addition, the operation of the device is independent of the use of resources such as energy or gas.

Water is the main ingredient of beer. How does the company save water? How is this natural resource managed efficiently and responsibly?

Indeed, water is essential to the brewing process and it is also a vital resource, one that needs to be responsibly administrated for the sake of communities and nature. Water conservation has always been among HEINEKEN's environmental priorities. As part of the global 2030 goals, our company committed to reducing its average water consumption to 2.9 hl/hl worldwide and 2.6 hectoliters of water per hectoliter of beverage produced in water-scarce areas.

In Romania, in 2021, we were at 3.5 hl of water per hl of beer and we are working to decrease constantly. Investments in new bottling technology, such as the one we have recently made in our Miercurea Ciuc brewery, support our goals – the new bottling line in our brewery helps reduce the consumption of water and other resources while increasing production capacity.

What percentage of the company's suppliers are local?

Currently, approximately 70% of our suppliers are local. We take pride in the fact that our activity contributes to the growth of other local businesses that provide us with raw materials and other supplies. We aim to be a factor of growth and stability for the local economy and community.

What are Heineken's HR goals for 2030?

Heineken's global commitments for 2030 raise the company's social sustainability ambitions, including our continued focus on inclusion and diversity.

Today, the percentage of women represented in Heineken's management teams has doubled compared to a decade ago, but many opportunities remain. For the first time, in 2021, Heineken established a gender commitment to increase the representation of women in management teams to 30% by 2025 and 40% by 2030 as a step towards achieving gender balance.

At the same time, Heineken is committed to paying equal wages for the same work to all colleagues, regardless of gender.

Furthermore, the company is implementing a global equal pay and fair wage program so that every employee earns not just a legal minimum wage, but a fair wage by 2023 at the latest, especially in the most vulnerable communities.

We have more than 80,000 colleagues worldwide. In this big family, Heineken aims to cultivate a fair, professional environment, where everyone can develop professionally, and a sense of belonging to a strong, motivated team, united around the company's purpose – We create the Joy of True Togetherness to inspire a better world.

What do you think are the benefits that a sustainable approach can bring to a business?

Our approach, at Heineken, is clear: sustainability brings value to the business, through the trust of our consumers, business and institutional partners, and the community, a trust without which a company is deeply vulnerable. At the same time, at Heineken, we consider that contributing to a better future is both a responsibility and a way to strengthen the business and be equipped for success in a world characterized by constant change.

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Green Forum  |  23 April, 2024 at 11:00 AM