Every Drop, Every Ripple

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In the spirit of World Water Day last week, organizations across the country are beginning to implement new strategies and have fine-tuned existing initiatives in an effort to preserve water. Canadian breweries in particular have spearheaded initiatives to reduce water consumption.

The World Water Day theme this year was “water and food security”, to spread awareness of the reality that the ability to sustainably feed future generations is contingent on our energy conserving behaviour today.

“We will grow about 50 per cent over the next 25 years in some of the larger areas of Ontario,” explained Chris Winter, the executive director of the Conservation Council of Ontario. “In Ontario we don’t really have an issue with water, because we have the great lakes, but we do have a lot of municipalities living off of ground water,” Winter continued.

Canada’s largest and most iconic businesses have taken this message to heart, and over the past 20 years Canadian brewers have reduced how much water they use by 50 per cent.“The saying goes without water you can’t brew great beer. There needs to be secure access to water as you have brands where the water that they use is an integral part of the beer that they’re producing,” said Brian Zeiler-Kligman, director of sustainability for Canada’s National Brewers. Different businesses are undertaking different initiatives to conserve water; Molson-Coors Canada has a program called “Every Drop, Every Ripple.”

“Each brewer has undertaken their own initiatives to reduce water consumption. At the root, the starting point was starting to measure their footprint, and if you look at Labatt as an example, they’ve instituted a number of different initiatives,” added Zeiler-Kligman.

Labatt looks to their front line staff that regularly interacts with customers for recommendations, explained Zeiler-Kligman, and this has been helping their environmental initiatives tremendously. Labatt won an environmental award this past year, and their stewardship was a key part of it. The award was from the Ontario Water Works Association.

A representative from Sleeman Brewery, located in Guelph, discussed the sort of initiatives they have in place for energy conservation overall. A large part of their water consumption goes to their bottle washing, and that is something the company has looked at in particular “We’re about bench mark, or a bit better than bench mark in terms of North America, which is pretty good for a brewery of our size,” explained the Sleeman representative.

“Over the last few years, we have used a hot-water tank management systems, it helps us with the redeployment of gray water.”

“Given the nature of the industry, environmental stewardship is pretty much engrained in the industry,” continued Zeiler-Kligman. He explained that the beer store’s Ontario Deposit Return Program (ODRP) is actually an industry initiative where all brewers are expected to participate. The brewers’ strong focus on water conservation started 20-25 years ago, but the environmental concerns have been a part of the industry for much longer. Local bottle collection programs actually date back to the 1920s.

In terms of how regular people can contribute to the water conservation initiatives, Winter advised, “The simple little things of not buy bottle water, not watering your driveway, these are simple things you can do at home, right up to getting involved and lobbying for watersheds.”

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