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VIDEO: Water recycling to help Heineken Mexico brew circular ambitions

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Ambitions to recycle over 30 per cent

Dutch brewing giant Heineken is moving forward on plans to create its most sustainable, circular brewery in Mexico.

At its US$500 million brewery in Meoqui, Chihuahua, plans are in place to eventually recycle over 30 per cent of its total water consumption back into the process, such as cleaning and cooling water.

Recovered water would be recycled back into the process, such as for cleaning purposes or cooling water. The company said it would not be used as an ingredient.

Speaking to Aquatech Global Events on the side-lines of Aquatech Mexico, Eduardo Enrique Aguiñaga Maldonado, circular economy lead for Heineken Mexico, said: “We’re planning on constructing a water reclamation plant at our newest brewery in Meoqui, Chihuahua, which was built around the principle of the circular economy.”

Creating a circular value ecosystem

Maldonado added that as well as the water recycling efforts, the brewery will also share resources with neighbouring businesses.

“One of the main ambitions is around transforming the region – this is not just about making our own production more efficient,” he said.

“It would also include other surrounding stakeholders. We are calling it the 'Circular value ecosystem', and it’s a symbiosis between companies. We are trying to reduce water use in other industries in our processes, or giving our wastewater to other industries in this region.”

Combining beer + renewable energy

Opened in early 2018, the Meoqui brewery has a six million hectolitre per year (600 million litres) capacity and was constructed “following circular economy principles”, according to Heineken.

The company said it is its "most water-efficient brewery globally" and it will use just two litres of water for every litre of beer produced by 2020. The industry average is 3.2 litres of water needed to make one litre of beer.

One of the ambitions for the site is to use 100 per cent renewable electricity: windows containing photovoltaic cells that will create 12 per cent of the onside electricity. The remaining energy will be sourced from wind power.

Furthermore, a wastewater treatment plant will allow the use of biogas in boilers and reuse treated water for the cleaning of shared facilities and irrigation of local green spaces.

With a six million hectolitre per year (600 million litres) capacity, the Meoqui site produces brands such as Tecate, Dos Equis and Heineken for the Mexican market as well as for export markets.

2030 Water Strategy

Water cycling and circularity are important for not only Heineken but the beer manufacturing industry as a whole: water makes up approximately 95 per cent of beer.

Out of Heineken's 170 breweries operated around the world, 26 are in water-stressed areas.

In 2016 Heineken Mexico became a corporate member of the Circular Economy 100 (CE100), the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s pre-competitive innovation programme.

Earlier this year, the company announced its 2030 water vision, called 'Every Drop', including the following commitments:

  • To fully balance within the local watershed, every litre of water used in products in water-stressed areas. The brewer also commits to work collaboratively with other users of the watershed so that its health is protected, which is essential for the communities around it to thrive.
  • To maximise water circularity in water-stressed areas through recovery, reuse and recycling and to treat 100 per cent of wastewater worldwide.
  • To reduce water usage to an average of 2.8 hectolitres of water per hectolitre of beer (from 3.2 hl/hl) for breweries in water-stressed areas and 3.2 hectolitres of water per hectolitre of beer (from 3.5 hl/hl) on average for all breweries worldwide.

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