Good times and even better conversations tend to flow when exchanged over a few good pints. Beer breaks barriers, and few companies do it better than HEINEKEN Malaysia (formerly known as Guinness Anchor Bhd). One of the world’s most iconic brands, Heineken has been a mainstay in Malaysia for more than 50 years. Besides creating memorable moments and inspirational brands, HEINEKEN Malaysia is committed to contribute a sustainable future.
HEINEKEN Malaysia Corporate Affairs and Legal Director Renuka Indrarajah believes sustainability, especially within a company like the HEINEKEN Group, is far more than a “philanthropic afterthought, or as an extracurricular activity”
On the contrary, Renuka says that businesses in general ought to embed the principles of sustainability in every aspect of their operations, all year round, if they are to have a positive impact on their people and performance.
“At HEINEKEN Malaysia, we believe that business growth and sustainability go hand in hand in creating value for our business and key stakeholders. Our global sustainability strategy, Brewing a Better World (BaBW) is one of our key business priorities.
“Under BaBW, we believe that there are six focus areas in which we can make a significant and meaningful difference. They are protecting water resources, reducing CO2 emissions, sourcing sustainability, advocating responsible consumption, growing with communities, as well as promoting health and safety.
“These focus areas are monitored and guarded by different functions across the company, including our colleagues from the Supply ChainProcurement, Marketing, Human Resources, as well as Corporate Responsiblity departments.”
With sustainability built-in throughout HEINEKEN Malaysia’s structure, it is hardly surprising then that the company regularly achieves significant resource savings, doing so without any resultant drop in beer production thankfully.
Supply Chain Director William Mathers explains about the extent of HEINEKEN Malaysia’s water optimisation efforts. Thanks to well-placed tweaks in their production line, Mathers says that water used in production decreased by 15.5% within just two years. “Water is the main ingredient for our product, more than 95%, and it is essential in many aspects of the beer-making process. This is why we focus on reducing our water consumption year on year, by implementing various water optimisation efforts. For example, we reduced the size of our bottle washer nozzle that reduced water consumption from 9.0m3hr to 4.5m3hr.
“In addition, we invested in a wastewater treatment plant within our brewery to ensure that the wastewater discharged out of our brewery is treated according to the highest standards and is compliant with requirements from the Malaysian Department of Environment. This ensures that we do not pollute water catchment areas like rivers and drains.”
The results speak for themselves, Mathers says. “In 2016, we needed 3.65 pints of water to produce one pint of beer, as compared to 4.62 pints of water in 2014.”
But it isn’t just water of course; great pints requires equally large amounts of energy, and HEINEKEN Malaysia has the huge task of reining in its consumption. Mathers explains.
“By reducing the energy (fossil fuel) consumption, we managed to lower the amount of CO2 emissions. Ultimately, we have focused our attention in two aspects – electricity and thermal energy.
“From 2014 to 2016, we reduced our electricity usage by 12.2% and thermal energy by 17.2%. Some of the strategies we developed to reduce our CO2 emissions include eliminating compressed air leaks, optimising the creation and use of thermal energy, recovering and reusing energy, as well as increasing efficiency in distribution.”
Rivers run deep
While HEINEKEN Malaysia’s internal sustainability initiatives are plentiful, the company goes well beyond, reaching out to the wider community and environment. The company does this through the GAB Foundation, established in 2007.
According to Renuka, the GAB Foundation focuses on water and river conservation as well as education and partnerships. And if the statistics are anything to go by, GAB Foundation has a fight on its hands.
“In Malaysia, more than 90% of our water supply comes from our rivers,t unfortunately, only 58% of our rivers remain clean. The W.A.T.E.R (Working Actively Through Education and Rehabilition) Project is a community based programme that we started in 2007 in partnership with Global Environment Center (GEC).
“We work closely with government agencies, including the Deparment of Irrigation and Drainage Malaysia Petaling Jaya City Council and National Landscape Department to empower and educate local communities on the importance of river conservation. Resident associations have also been supportive of and are key to our success with W.A.T.E.R Project. We started our W.A.T.E.R Project in Sungei Way, a river behind our brewery in 2007.
Within 3 years, we improved the water quality from Class IV-V to Class III. Based on the success we attained in Selangor, we extended our project to three tributatries of Sungai Kinta, Perak with focus on education outreach progamme. The communities along Sungai Senam, Sungai Buntong and Sungai Kledang are engaged through training of trainer programmes which aims to empower them to take charge of their river basins.
The support received from various government agencies in Perak including Department of Irrigation and Drainage Perak, Department of Environment, Perak and Ipoh City Council has enabled us to reach a wider community. In 2016, we then expanded the project to cover Sungai Penchala to target communities resideing along upper stream, middle stream and lower stream for greater impact HEINEKEN Malaysia has spared no expense in the pursuit of cleaning our rivers. “To date, we have invested close to RM7 million on this project and have engaged close to 25,000 Malaysians.”
HEINEKEN Malaysia plans to further expand the Sungai Penchala project next year by investing in various conservation education and training programmes for the local and business communities along the river.
But community empowerment projects, like cold brews, are best shared. To this end, the GAB Foundation has gone all out to empower educators as powerful agents of change to make learning English engaging and fun, via its English Enrichment Training Programme (EETP). Renuka says that EETP is currently ongoing in seven states: Kedah, Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca, Johor, Sabah and Sarawak A 4-day intensive progarmme led by Early Childhood and English language experts is followed by a 22- week supplementary English classes led by the by the programme participants and supported by mentors nationwide.
“Since 2012 we have invested RM5 million into the project, training 400 educators from 230 schools in the seven states.More than6,000 students have indirectly benefitted from this programme,” Renuka says.
Responsible consumption a key message
One of the most important community outreach initatives that an organisation like HEINEKEN Malaysia can get up to is by being part of the drive to promote responsible consumption. The company do so through its brands, investing 10% of the Heineken® media budget in campaigns that aim to make responsible consumption aspirational; through its platform Drink Sensibly (DS) and also in alliance with others. “We have been engaging with business partners who have direct contact with consumers to promote responsible consumption, through the advocating of responsible serving and messaging in outlets,” says Renuka. HEINEKEN is one of 12 companies global companies to have commited to the promotion of responsible consumption through the Beer, Wine and Spirits Producers’ Commitments, signed in 2013. According to Renuka, five key areas that are addressed in the commitment include reducing underage drinking, strengthening and expanding marketing codes of practice, providing consumer information and responsible product innovation, reducing drinking and driving, as well as enlisting the support of retailers to reduce harmful drinking.
She adds, “We engage the Ministry of Health as and when there are changes and actively communicate any changes in relation to laws in the Food Act 1983 to our business partners through the Confederation of Malaysian Brewers Berhad. With changes to the Food Act effective December 2017, we have engaged with retail associations and will be producing educational material for their members.”