Carlsberg brewery wants to cut its water use by 50% by 2030. The initiative, Zero Water Waste, is part of Carlsberg’s Together Towards Zero program. In its production facility in Fredericia, Denmark, Carlsberg has developed a Total Water Management treatment plant with consultants, universities and technology providers like Grundfos. The onsite facility treats used process water from mainly cleaning purposes, purifies it to drinking water quality and sends it back to the brewery to be reused as process water. The plant recovers and reuses 90% of its process water.
Water is an essential ingredient to produce beer. No water, no beer. Most of the water used traditionally, however, does not end up in the beer. At the Carlsberg facility in Fredericia, Denmark, around 60-65% of the total water usage goes mainly to cleaning purposes. This includes everything from equipment, floors, and surfaces to pipes and tanks to bottle and can washers and more, including cooling towers and boiler plants. This is called process water.
“Water consumption in breweries is related to the hygiene. Historically, there’s been a lot of emphasis to when you’re producing food, you need to do that with a lot of water,” says Søren Nøhr Bak, Expertise Director of Water in Food and Beverage at NIRAS, Carlsberg’s engineering consultancy partner. “Actually, going back in time, brewers would be bragging about how much water they were using, because that was an indicator of how clean it actually was. Today, that doesn’t work.”
The Carlsberg Group was using 3.4 litres of water per litre of beer produced globally in 2015, according to Tenna Skov Thorsted, Carlsberg Denmark’s Sustainability Manager. “Our ambition was to bring it down to below 1.7,” she says, or reducing water consumption by 50% across Carlsberg Group by 2030. This ambition came from the company’s Together Towards Zero sustainability program, which calls for zero water waste by 2030, among other sustainability targets.