At The Beer Garden, we write a lot about the little guys and what they are doing right in the world of beer. The question though, apart from the obvious glory and euphoria of this hoppy beverage is, “What is beer doing for the world?”.
We were invited this week to join Newlands Brewery’s General Manager, Diarmaid, their head of environmental sustainability, Andre and brewer, Peter to learn a bit more about what SAB Miller are doing for our planet and specifically how they manage their water.
There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that SAB Miller turn out a HUGE amount of beer, in fact, we were told that the Newlands Brewery alone has storage space for 21 000hl of beer that is turned over 6 times a week! Now consider that it takes SAB Miller about 4.05 litres of water to produce 1 litre of beer and you start to understand why there is a need to look at the environmental concerns of quenching the South African beer drinker’s thirst.
There are other factors involved as well such as the electricity it takes to run operations as big as this and the strain that could possibly be put on our waste management systems, but SAB have really pulled out as many stops as they can and plugged every drain on our resources that they can find.
The Newlands Brewery gets their water from the Newlands Spring and the Kommetjie Spring for making beer. They have also drilled four boreholes over the last 44 years to assist them with their water needs. (The water analysis on these is identical to the spring water supply), thus they are not a drain on the resources that the city needs to function.
In 2004, they installed an effluent plant at a cost of R13 million to reduce the load on the municipality’s treatment centre, which further assists the city as the Newlands Brewery discharges 3000 cubic meters of water into the Cape Town City’s municipal water treatment system per day! None of Newlands’ effluent water is discharged into the Liesbeek or any other source. In fact, while treating their effluent water, it generates a biogas, methane, which they use to create enough power to contribute to about 10% of the brewery’s steam requirements.
You might say that SAB Miller are expected to save water, save electricity and look after the welfare of the city and the world in which they brew, but surely we are ALL expected to do the same? Sure, when sitting at home brewing your 10 litres of beer, you can’t be expected to install 156 water meters to check all areas of water usage or reduce your consumption by 500ml per beer by 2015, but why not use your water more than once? Rinse water can be used as wash water. Make sure that you’re getting your malt and hops from a source that has environmental sustainability in mind. Above all else, don’t underestimate the difference your small contribution can make.
After all, Earth is the only planet that we know of with beer, so let’s all do our part to keep it flowing.