Drink responsibly – Sustainability in the brewery sector

Beer is made from three main ingredients: water, malt and hops – all of which rely on a healthy nature and environment and could be severely threatened by climate change.

Burning fossil fuels for energy production is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. As brewing is a water and energy-intensive process, finding ways to reduce consumption and creating a more sustainable process is one of the company’s key objectives. What is more, it also makes sense from a business perspective.

Environment vs. economy

Naturally, the major concern many companies have about improving their environmental standards, is whether or not they would have to make significant economic sacrifices. What kind of limitations do you have to accept when striving to be a leading company in sustainability? And how can you stay competitive when you put the environment before the economy?

We thought it would be best to ask Jussi Laukkanen, the CEO of Saimaan Juomatehdas, one of the sustainability pioneers of the Finnish brewery industry, that recently switched to EKOenergy-certified electricity.

“We don’t think that respecting the principles of environmental friendliness and sustainable development puts limitations to our activity”, Laukkanen explains. “On the contrary. By working in a way which burdens the environment as little as possible, we work at the same time efficiently and productively.“

More and more companies do not see the protection of the climate and the environment as an economic burden but as an opportunity to be involved with more sustainable corporate activities.

As consumers are increasingly expecting companies to take environmental actions, you do not necessarily have to make the choice between sustainability and economic growth. On the contrary, taking a leading role in environmental protection can make your economic situation truly sustainable.

Concrete actions

But let’s get concrete. There is a lot of talking about “sustainability”, mainly referring to environmental issues. So what can breweries do to become more sustainable?

The most logical starting point is the ingredients – more than 90 percent of Saimaan Juomatehdas’ production is organic. The energy and raw materials used in the production process are streamlined to make them as efficient as possible. Further, all packagings are reused and recycled.

For Saimaan Juomatehdas, using EKOenergy-labelled electricity is one part of their comprehensive approach to being a sustainable brewery. Just like for the other aspects, they wanted to make sure to find the best solution: “By using EKOenergy, we can guarantee that the environmental impacts of the electricity which we use are as small as possible.”

Communicate proudly

The wide range of aspects in which breweries can make a difference is surprising. However, even the best practices do not have any value if you do not communicate to let your customers know about them. The awareness of customers is the basis for a well-functioning sustainable business.

“By talking openly about the issue, we can increase the awareness of consumers and of those active in the sector, about how we can make a difference through our own choices. If there is awareness and understanding, consumers can make decisions based on facts,” Laukkanen explains.

Saimaan Juomatehdas proudly presents its corporate social responsibility policy on its website. They actively communicate on social media and they print the EKOenergy-logo on their cans to effortlessly show their commitment to sustainability for all to see. For us at EKOenergy, this is a win-win situation: we are always happy to help our consumers communicate about their use of EKOenergy in all possible ways.

The Campaign

EKOenergy’s “Drink Responsibly”-Campaign is aiming to increase awareness for sustainability in the brewery sector as well as in the public debate. We invite breweries to make their electricity supply more sustainable by switching to EKOenergy.

Posted on 18 October 2016