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Anheuser-Busch InBev to make 'green' beer by cutting down on water

March 15, 2010 | 10:40 am

Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev plans to start making watered-down beer -- as in cutting down water usage in its production process to help make the company’s operations more eco-friendly.

By the end of 2012, the company plans to whittle down its worldwide water use by 30% to 3.5 hectoliters of water for each hectoliter of product. Each hectoliter is about 26.4 gallons.

In 2007, each hectoliter of production required 5.03 hectoliters of water. The company’s brewery in Cartersville, Ga., has already reached the 3.1-hectoliter mark.

Reaching the goal would be the equivalent of saving enough water to fill 25,000 Olympic-size swimming pools, Anheuser-Busch InBev said. Since 2000, the brewer has already decreased water use by nearly 37%, it said.

Water is used in beer production and also for cleaning and cooling, said spokeswoman Marianne Amssoms. Much of the reduction will come from reusing water, such as recycling water from the brewing process to use for utilities.

"We would never, ever do anything that would touch the quality of our beers," Amssoms said. "But there is a lot of opportunity in the process that the company is pursuing."

The Belgium-based company, which acquired Anheuser-Busch Cos. of St. Louis in 2008, announced an ambitious three-year environmental plan on Monday. Other targets include recycling and reusing 99% of the waste associated with brewing and packaging beers, up from 97.2% in 2007 and 98% in 2009, the company said. Its U.S. breweries cut the material sent to landfills by 22% in 2008 and recycled 99.4% of the beechwood chips, aluminum, glass and other materials used the next year, it said.

The Bud Light and Michelob maker also wants to cut carbon dioxide emissions and energy use by 10% for each hectoliter of production.

After building or upgrading 14 wastewater treatment plants last year, the company plans to open or upgrade another 20 by 2012, including three more at facilities in Russia this year. Anheuser-Busch InBev said in 2008 that it would use alternative energy to brew one in seven of its U.S.-produced beers by the end of 2009 -- the equivalent of more than 5 billion 12-oz. servings.

The company also said it would limit its greenhouse gas emissions 15% based on 2008 figures by 2013 while also boosting renewable fuel use from 8% to 15%.

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Anheuser-Busch's World Select beer. Credit: Ken Hively / Los Angeles Times