Decarbonization might be the hottest market trend, and Budweiser is hopping on the train. No, this doesn’t mean that the next six-pack you buy will be without any of the fizzy-ness. It means that the alcohol giant is the latest of a series of corporations to announce their intent to move away from carbon emissions and into the use of renewables to power all business operations. As part of parent company Anheuser-Busch InBev’s recently announced pledge to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across its entire value chain (including all partnered bars worldwide) by the year 2040, Budweiser has launched a program called The Energy Collective to get that process started. This program follows a pledge made by the company in 2015 to brew its beer with 100 percent renewable energy sources by 2025, a goal Budweiser claims is already near completion worldwide.
Given the optimistic outlook on the energy usage of its brewing operations, The Energy Collective looks to build on this progress by focusing on the status of energy consumption at bars and restaurants within its value chain.
This poses a different set of challenges than simply converting power sources for in-house breweries from traditional energy to renewables. It requires a coordinated effort across a broader range of smaller businesses, each with its independent setup and ownership. To go from enacting corporate policy to a smaller number of large brewhouses is an entirely different undertaking than doing the same for thousands of businesses around the globe.
To combat this logistical hurdle, Budweiser has centered the mission behind The Energy Collective around a partnership-based approach.
This means that it will be looking to work on a local level, collaborating with renewable energy producers to offer cost incentives for bars in the area. Local businesses could see significant cost savings by signing up for the initiative, making the decision to switch from traditional energy to a clean alternative the obvious one in the minds of bar owners.
This would also allow businesses to advertise their sustainability efforts to potential patrons, which could drive increased business. “Consumers crave a better world where the things they love are sustainable,” says Todd Allen, Budweiser’s vice president of global marketing. “The Energy Collective is helping facilitate the powering of things people love with renewable electricity while helping close the gap between what consumers want and what companies can do.”
Though the global rollout has only recently begun, Budweiser’s efforts to test this approach in places like Brazil and Ireland have already seen significant success. In Brazil, the company partnered with regional provider Lemon Energy to provide hundreds of bars with affordable access to clean energy, resulting in almost 300 metric tons of carbon savings annually. This will be accompanied by further plans to convert as many as 250,000 pubs within the country to renewables, removing an equivalent of nearly 8,000 cars from the road.
A similar story is true in Ireland, where thousands of bars like Limerick’s Jerry Flannery’s have seen their own financial benefits. “I’ve already been able to reduce my monthly electricity costs by about 10 percent,” says Will Morgan, general manager at Jarry Flannery’s. “It’s also been a conversation starter with many of my customers to discuss the importance of renewable electricity and creating a brighter future for us all.”
The rollout of The Energy Collective is one of many sustainability-related initiatives that Anheuser-Busch InBev has taken part in. By partnering with agricultural tech company Indigo Ag, Anheuser-Busch has made strong investments in the future of regenerative farming, a practice that allows farmers to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Anheuser-Busch has also shifted to using zero-emission trucks for freight operations by collaborating with electric trucking manufacturer BYD Motors, which paves the way for an impressive degree of wide-ranging sustainability in operations for such a large corporation.