Notably, 2021 marked significant collective progress as Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) hit the mainstream. Accompanying the growing focus of initiatives aimed toward target setting and improved assessment and measurement of ESG plans, acute attention is now focused on addressing rapid decarbonization, deforestation, energy efficiency, and other critical impacts of businesses’ value chains.
Reflecting on 2021, the members of the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) have maintained a steady and unwavering focus acting as a common voice across the beverage sector, speaking to influence global standards on environmental sustainability aspects, and sharing best practices that raise the bar for the sustainable performance of the industry.
Specifically, 2021 marked the 15 year anniversary of BIER as a consortium of leading global beverage companies advancing environmental sustainability. BIER continued to step up to the challenge in 2021 and accomplished a number of achievements. The following highlight some of BIER’s achievements in the past year:
- In response to increased pressures to move towards low carbon economies, BIER published The Facility Decarbonization Playbook. The focus of the Facility Decarbonization Playbook is on providing guidance to less mature facilities to accelerate the journey from negative to positive impacts with regard to emissions. Because facility decarbonization needs to occur locally, the Facility Decarbonization Playbook offers foundational information to spur local efforts and is considered hugely informative to other sectors that might be lagging.
- BIER’s Charco Bendito watershed project in the Municipality of Tlajomulco de Zuniga, Jalisco Mexico has been hailed as a “first of its kind” collaboration among leading beverage companies.
- Meeting the increased need for business operations to address challenges related to water quantity, quality, and value from a context-based perspective, BIER in partnership with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) developed The Water Circularity Metrics Tool and Tool Application and Guidance Note. The tool is a scenario-based tool providing a practical methodology for businesses to adopt a common metric for water circularity at a facility and enterprise level. The step-by-step process supports more informed decisions to evaluate a specific facility’s water needs, water source options and determining post-use and discharge options allowing for a transition from linear to more circular and less demanding on the local watershed.
- Promoting the sustainable use and protection of water is a business imperative for BIER members and in keeping with BIER’s focus on water, it published The Six Principles of World Class Stewardship in the Beverage Industry. This was an updated BIER Water Stewardship Framework Definition with technical contributions from industry experts Tom Williams of World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Paul Reig of Bluerisk, and Will Sarni of Water Foundry.
- Our biannual Global Water, Energy, and GHG Benchmarking Study was completed this year with data from over 1,600 global facilities across BIER member companies as well as partner organizations participating including Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), Kentucky Distillers’ Association (KDA), and International Bottled Water Association (IBWA). Our latest benchmarking report will be published in January 2022.
As we look toward 2022 and beyond, commitment to being corporate leaders within environmental sustainability requires that beverage companies look beyond their own operations and engage with a wide range of stakeholders. Due for publication in 2022, BIER is releasing guidance for the following:
- Decarbonization Playbook for Small/Medium suppliers - Building on the Facility Decarbonization Playbook aimed at providing guidance to less mature facilities to accelerate the journey from negative to positive impacts with regards to emissions, the Decarbonization Playbook for Small/Medium suppliers aims to provide similar guidance to support decarbonization in the value chain.
- As mentioned previously, the publication of the 2021 Benchmarking report is expected to publish late January 2022.
- In early 2022, we plan to publish BIER’s GHG Sector Guide v4.2. For the beverage industry, as for all industries, the ability to make informed decisions on GHG reduction efforts and climate change mitigation is dependent upon an accurate inventory of all relevant GHG emissions associated with a company, its value chain, and the life cycles of its products. The BIER Sector Guide is intended to provide supplementary guidance to primary global GHG protocols, with the objective of creating beverage sector consensus and consistency on inventory scoping, calculation steps, and data use.
Moving forward in 2022, there will be a continued focus on providing guidance and tools related to global water quality and supply, greenhouse gas emissions, climate resiliency, and decarbonization.
KEYWORDS: Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER), The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), Bluerisk, Water Foundry