Traditionally speaking, brewing beer hasn’t always been the most sustainable practice.

The high use of energy and water in the fermentation process together with the refuse by-products of canning and bottling means being a sustainable beer brewer doesn’t come without its challenges.

However, with the climate crisis reaching a critical impasse and consumers being more willing to pay premiums for sustainably manufactured beer, green solutions are becoming more and more important.

Beer Industry on its Sustainability Journey

Being green is about far more than just what goes on inside the brewery, though – it relies on the entire supply chain. From sourcing ingredients and packaging to storing and shipping beer around the world, logistics accounts for between 9-12% of emissions for beer producers. And this is where Maersk’s expertise comes in.

Speaking at the recent World Barley, Malt and Beer Conference in Antwerp, Belgium, Maersk Senior Global Sustainability Advisor Kaisa Tikk outlined the company’s green ambitions to some of the biggest players in the beer industry.

Kaisa explained how Maersk is committed to net zero across the business by 2040 and that customer collaboration remains a fundamental part of the journey. Maersk aims to lead global change and give companies the tools to meet their sustainability targets across all industries – including beer.

Beer brewing is an industry that’s still full of untapped opportunities in terms of sustainability. Maersk’s vision and expertise in building sustainable, end-to-end solutions for our customers enables us to ensure the logistics of the beer industry is as green as possible – meeting beer customers’ individual targets for sustainability along the way.

Kaisa Tikk
Maersk Senior Global Sustainability Advisor

Decarbonising logistics for Maersk customers starts with optimising carbon footprint visibility across the supply chain, for example through the Emissions Dashboard. Beer companies can identify ‘emission hotspot’ corridors both upstream and downstream in their supply chains and work with Maersk to find a solution.

This could be as simple as shifting the current modes of transport – opting for rail or barge over trucking can cut your emissions considerably. Maersk is also stepping up efforts with regards to the implementation of electrification and biofuels across the network and has already tailored solutions for customers to ensure a high percentage of their cargo is transported using eco-friendly power.

Maersk expects several alternative fuels to co-exist and has identified a number of potential fuel pathways to decarbonisation in the shipping industry, including biodiesel, synthetic alcohols, ammonia and electrofuels. Strong investment and development in many of these technologies from Maersk means more and more customers will benefit from the innovation on their supply chains in the near future.

Beer Industry on its Sustainability Journey

For connecting and simplifying complicated logistics operations through data-driven supply chain management, solutions like Maersk NeoNav can also play a major part in reducing emissions. The technology integrates information from a wide range of sources and can create better visibility and synchronicity for beer companies, allowing them to optimise and coordinate processes to keep things moving in the most efficient way possible.

Without unification, beer brands could be faced with over-full warehouses or stock shortages in specific markets – leading to the need for further transportation and subsequent increased emissions, as well as lost revenue.

With ultimate visibility and control comes opportunity. Many companies in the FMCG sector are analysing and re-designing parts of their supply chains shaped around near-sourcing, and opportunities are vast for regionalisation in the beer industry.

Looking upstream to the likes of farms for barley and malt together with packaging companies and more, near-sourcing options make for a reduced transportation footprint in what can be an emissions-heavy stage of logistical operations. According to the Belgium Brewery Company’s life-cycle assessment study, around 40% of emissions in the beer brewing supply chain are typically generated upstream.

Beer Industry on its Sustainability Journey

Although beer manufacturers face a number of challenges when it comes to sustainability, particularly with complicated supply chains, the overarching commitment from small and large brewers to embrace green solutions is most welcome for both consumers and indeed the planet.

Added to Maersk’s vision of leading immediate climate action and collaborating with customers for greener end-to-end solutions, beer companies can establish their supply chain journeys as a positive step for the environment.

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