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Beer is the Environment

An Industry Wide Commitment to the Environment

In addition to the Brewing industry’s comprehensive bottle and packaging reuse program, which recaptures 98% of all the beer bottles used in Canada. Canadian brewers also show leadership in energy and water use conservation and measures to reduce GHG emissions.

Bottling and Packaging Recovery

In fact, Canadian brewers maintain a reusable system, introduced in 1927, under which glass containers are returned and reused. Industry records show that company recycling systems were put in place as early as the turn of the century. Read more about Canada's exemplary Bottling and Packaging Recovery system.

All bottles returning to a brewery are washed with hot water and special solutions to both clean them and to remove any foreign objects. As the bottles come out of the washer, Electronic Bottle Inspectors (EBI) check them. In view of the importance of this procedure, the common practice is to have two separate EBI stations on the bottle line. In addition, trained staff conducts spot checks on a random basis throughout the production line, including candling. In this procedure, a bottle is inverted in front of strong light and any particles may be observed as they settle in the neck of the bottle. Bottle contamination occurs very rarely, but when it does the industry reacts immediately and pro-actively.

Standard Mould Bottle

In Canada, the brewing industry has encouraged the consumer support for the deposit-based refillable glass bottle for the packaging of the majority of beer sold. The closed-loop recycling system has resulted in the recuperation of 98% of these standard mould bottles sold in Canada and provides the foundation for the industry’s internationally acclaimed packaging stewardship. Further information can be found in this document on the Standard Mould Bottle (SMB) Agreement.

TBS Responsible Stewardship Report

The TBS Responsible Stewardship Report 2013-2014 outlines the remarkable performance and continued improvement of The Beer Store's world renowned deposit return based packaging recovery system. TBS also reports on the results of the Ontario Deposit Return Program (ODRP) for wine and spirit containers sold by LCBO, winery and distillery retail stores. Among the achievements:

  • 1.95 billion beverage alcohol containers collected – equivalent to 91 per cent of all beverage alcohol containers sold in Ontario;
  • 1.65 billion beer containers collected (glass and PET bottles, cans and kegs), for a remarkable 94 per cent overall return rate;
  • 99% of refillable glass beer bottles were returned. These bottles are used an average of 15 times before being recycled into new glass bottles – enabling brewers to sell over 962 million beer servings in Ontario in 2013-14 while only producing about 71 million bottles;

Additional information can be found on the TBS Website.

Energy Conservation

The Canadian brewing industry is an active participant in the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation (CIPEC), a voluntary partnership between the Federal Government and industry to improve Canada’s industrial energy efficiency. Between 1990 and 2013, Statistics Canada found that the amount of energy used to make a hectolitre of beer declined by 58%. These energy savings have continued.

In many ways, the Canadian brewing industry is putting forward significant efforts to reduce energy consumption. The brewing industry is an active participant in the Canadian Industry Program for Energy Conservation (CIPEC).

Working in cooperation with Natural Resources Canada, Beer Canada has also produced an industry energy efficiency guide, Energy Efficiency Opportunities in the Canadian Brewing Industry, 2011

Retail Energy Consumption

In addition to major energy savings in brewing processes, Canadian brewers also have been working hard to reduce energy consumption at the retail level. In Ontario, new Beer Store retail outlets are equipped with super-high-efficiency refrigeration equipment and low-energy use lighting. This equipment represents the best-available technology and is much more energy efficient than older equipment. Older stores are also being retrofitted with equipment as they are upgraded.

Distribution/Transportation Energy Consumption

Vehicle fleet energy reduction programs focus on route optimization, anti-engine idling technology and driver training to avoid sudden stopping and acceleration.

In Ontario, through improved truck routing, The Beer Store truck distribution fleet was reduced from 320 vehicles to 280 vehicles. Technology introduced on new trucks also sets a maximum driving speed and includes an automatic engine shut-off, which significantly reduces vehicle idling and emissions.

Water-use Reductions

Brewing is a water intensive process. In addition to its use in beer, water is also used for cleaning brew kettles, fermenting and aging tanks, and in the packaging lines. It is also necessary for rinsing bottles and cans prior to packaging and for cooling machinery. Water is used in buildings to support the needs of employees. Even with the growing amount of beer being produced in Canada, the overall amount of water used has significantly decreased.

For further information, please consult the BAC Water Use document.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reductions

Conservation activities, including bottle re-use, packaging recycling, energy reductions and vehicle idling programs directly reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses (GHGs) produced by brewers. In Ontario, in 2004/5, reuse and recycling programs resulted in a net avoidance of 158,000 tones of GHGs.

Between 1990 and 2008, Statistics Canada found that the amount of energy used to make a hectolitre of beer reduced by an average of 2.7% a year. These energy savings have continued.

  • The energy useage in the brewery sector increased less than 1 percent in 2008, over the 2007 figure.
  • Concurrently, a corresponding drop in the output of the sector by 1 percent, caused the energy intensity to edge upwards by close to 2 percent.
  • Natural gas remains as the fuel of choice at 65 percent in the brewery sector; electricity follows at 24 percent as the number two fuel in the sector.

The amount of GHGs emitted for each hectolitre of beer produced declined by 60% between 1990 and 2008 – equivalent to the removal of 219 kilotonnes of GHGs from the environment. For more information please read the Association's GHG Emissions document.

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