But is it greenwashing?
Anheuser-Busch, the largest brewer in the US, announced today that its breweries will rely on renewable energies for 15 percent of their needs by 2010. The Houston brewery plans to use biogas from a nearby landfill combined with an on-site bio-energy recovery system (BERS) that will make use of brewing wastewater, and the Fairfield, California facility will use solar panels in addition to a BERS. The other US breweries will use only BERS.
When the facilities are completed, 10 out of the 12 Anheuser-Busch breweries in the US will use alternative fuels.
It’s tempting to shake our heads and exclaim that this is just another example of meaningless corporate greenwashing. But that might not be entirely true.
Anheuser-Busch’s plan will produce 1 in 7 beers using alternative energy—that’s over 5 billion 12 oz. servings. Additionally, Anheuser-Busch is the world’s largest operator of BERS. Such cogeneration is extremely important for large breweries to pursue if they want to be at all sustainable. As I mentioned earlier, Anheuser-Busch is the largest US brewer—so they set an example for other large companies.
If other breweries choose to pursue BERS, even if it is just to look good in the public eye, I won’t complain. I don’t know anyone who plans to stop drinking beer in the name of sustainability anytime soon, so Anheuser-Busch’s plan is a step forward.
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Ariel Schwartz was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a contributor at Fast Company, Inhabitat, Triple Pundit, SF Weekly, and NBC Bay Area Online. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.