The environment has been having a pretty hard time over the past few hundred years.
We have reduced water consumption by one-third since 2010
One litre of beer requires about three times as much water to make. A few years ago, it was four times as much, and ten years ago it was ten times as much. It is not that so much water would evaporate during brewing, it is that water is used to maintain sanitary standards in production for bottle washing and other activities.
At Plzeňský Prazdroj, we have succeeded in reducing our water consumption by an entire third since 2010. How?
For instance, if hot water is a by-product of brewing beer, we collect it and use it to rinse kegs. Even after the third rinsing of various equipment, the water is polluted so little it may be used for the first washing in the following cycle. When we are softening water for the brewing process, there is a small amount of very hard water left. This, however, poses no problem for steeping barley in the malthouse, so we use it there. The water evaporated during mashing and boiling hopped wort (about 10 %) is used to produce hot water. The water we use for ‘pushing’ the beer mains also does not all go down the drain. Only the volume that got mixed with beer is lost, but the rest is used again.
We have implemented quite a few similar measures in recent years. The goal is saving on the input as well as returning as much used liquid back to the process as possible. Of course, that is only possible if its quality allows us to do so. We have and continue to develop monitoring systems which optimize our consumption. Each and every employee is trained in resource conservation.
Thanks to the above measures, producing one hectolitre of beer now requires 2.9 hectolitres of water. This is an exceptional result not only in the Czech Republic, but also worldwide!
Have you ever seen compost made out of beer bottle labels?
It may not occur to those who work outside the food industry but when beer bottles are cleaned, tons of labels get washed off of them. What to do with them?
At the Radegast brewery, they started taking them to a composting plant a few years ago. About 400 tons of waste labels are disposed of in this way every year. To give you an idea – you would need 40 fully loaded legendary Tatra 813 trucks (yes, the four-axle ones) to transport them.
The labels are mixed with waste water sludge, wastes from greenery maintenance, etc. In 90 days, you get a substrate that may be used for road reinforcement or reclamation of dump sites.
Label composting is part of our sustainable development strategy – no waste from breweries heading to dump sites or incineration plants. Although it may seem like sci-fi, we are getting close to this goal. In 2017, we recycled or reused 98.5 percent of the waste we produced. This was just a tiny 0.3 percent less than the year before.
We supply spent grains to farmers or for the generation of green energy. Waste yeast and waste from the malting process are used as animal feed. Water treatment sludge is used as a soil fertilizer. Waste kieselguhr from filtration is ploughed in to lighten the soil in reclaimed areas. The rest is thoroughly sorted.
Unlike households, industrial enterprises must also monitor the quality of their waste water. In Nošovice, we have created a unique system of ponds to clean the drainage water and rainwater flowing from the brewery premises. The water returns to the environment clean. In Velké Popovice, our water treatment plant is used to treat water from both the brewery and the municipality.
Production of waste from Plzeňský Prazdroj in 2017
Czech beer requires a lot of energy
Saving energy in a Czech brewery is almost a Sisyphean task if the production is to be done properly. Genuine Pilsner lager requires triple mashing, which takes a lot of energy. In the case of heating by flame that means gas.
Long and thorough are also the processes of wort boiling in the brewhouse and beer maturing in lager cellars, which, of course, must be thermoregulated.
Still, our goal is to save in this area too and decrease the energy demands of our production. Unfortunately, we did not meet our goal in 2017, although the margin was very small. The main reason was the ongoing capital project –the construction activity in the Pilsner Urquell brewhouse and fermentation plant, which should be finished in the first half of 2018. Our total energy consumption, however, has decreased in the long term. Over the last 10 years, we have managed to reduce it by a remarkable 42 percent.
We have achieved this mostly by energy recovery, the thermal insulation of buildings, lighting replacement (installing LEDs), boiler renovations, and production optimization (automation). We monitor energy consumption and the effectiveness of the measures on a monthly basis.
Total Direct Energy
Reducing our carbon footprint
|less kilometres covered per one hectolitre of beer|
Every human activity contributes to the greenhouse effect. To save you from having to deprive yourself of drinking beer, we are tackling our carbon footprint among other things by optimizing distribution and investing in our fleet.
Producing and getting our products to customers requires a lot of energy. The consequence is releasing carbon into the atmosphere. This is why we require good environmental behaviour from our suppliers and, at the same time, address our own distribution.
What do we do?
- We invest in trucks conforming to the Euro 6 standard –the lowest conceivable carbon footprint. Every year, we renew about 20 percent of our fleet and always only purchase vehicles complying with the Euro 6 standard. The average age of our fleet is three years.
- In 2017, we implemented our Deliver project with the aim of decreasing the number of vehicles necessary for the distribution of our products. Through delivery optimization, we have reduced the mileage necessary to distribute one hectolitre of beer by 4 per cent.
- We also support distribution efficiency through competitions and training for drivers in order to reduce vehicle wear and tear and fuel consumption, and to achieve an environmentally-friendly driving style.
Tanks conserve the environment
(beer tanks, that is)
In terms of containers for our products, we support recyclable packaging. We have reduced our carbon footprint and the amount of wastes from packaging by shifting from keg beer to tank beer for consumption on the premise. A tank truck is simply more efficient than a regular truck as a lot of space is wasted when kegs are transported. Moreover, the taste of beer from a tank is exceptional.
Lately, however, the demand for packaged beer in stores has been growing, at the expense of draught beer consumed in pubs and restaurants. This is reflected in an increasing demand for user-convenient packaging – PET bottles and aluminium cans. The percentage of our products in returnable bottles has thus slightly decreased in recent years.