06/05/2013 08:45 am ET Updated Aug 05, 2013

Focusing Our Efforts, Expanding Our Impact

Agriculture uses 70 percent of global freshwater consumption, according to the UN"s Food and Agriculture Organization. And for the food and beverage industry, most of this consumption comes from growing raw materials like barley and wheat for our products. Since vital resources are critical to our business -- and the entire industry -- Anheuser-Busch InBev recently announced that we are enhancing our efforts on certain aspects of our environmental impact that matter the most, including water, energy and packaging.

We have been successful in the past by focusing our efforts inside our brewery walls and developing, testing and expanding best practices that are good for the business and lower our impacts. We are now looking to expand the reach of our environmental commitment and incorporate the lessons we have learned over the years. Continually improving our performance across our entire value chain will be a vital part of securing the long-term success of our business.

In our first round of environmental goals, we challenged ourselves to reduce the water and energy we use, our carbon emissions, and to increase our recycling rate, and we accomplished or surpassed each of these goals. With our new goals, we are not only continuing to strive for global improvements, but also recognizing that in a global operation like ours, not all improvements have an equal impact -- some will inevitably make a bigger difference than others. That is why we are focusing several of our new goals on key areas. We have consulted with stakeholders and have taken a focused approach to identifying where our resources and efforts will make the biggest impact.

Our 2017 goals, which will be shared across 24 countries, are set against a 2012 baseline:

· Reduce water risks and improve water management in 100 percent of our key barley growing regions in partnership with local stakeholders

· Engage in watershed protection measures at 100 percent of our facilities located in key areas in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, China, Mexico, Peru and the United States, in partnership with local stakeholders

· Reduce global water usage to a leading-edge 3.2 hectoliters of water per hectoliter of production, which is equivalent to about 5,400 Olympic-sized swimming [1]

· Reduce global greenhouse gas emissions per hectoliter of production by 10 percent, including a 15 percent reduction per hectoliter in China

· Reduce global energy usage per hectoliter of production by 10 percent, which is equivalent to the amount of electricity needed to light about a quarter of a million night football matches[2]

· Reduce packaging materials by 100,000 tons, which is approximately equivalent to the weight of a quarter of a billion full cans of beer[3]

· Reach a 70 percent global average of eco-friendly cooler purchases annually[4]

For years we've provided technical assistance to help our growers make the most out of their inputs, and this has yielded real results. Working closely with farmers in China, Latin America, Russia and the United States, we found new ways to optimize their use of water and other natural resources to achieve the highest quality barley with the best yields and lowest costs. In Brazil, for example, we are exploring the benefits of crop rotation of barley and maize and donating tree saplings to barley growers to create green belts around fields that help protect crops from wind damage, increase biodiversity and help sequester carbon emissions. And in the U.S., a grower in southern Idaho found that switching to the winter barley varieties that we purchase has helped to increase yields and produce higher-quality crops that require up to 20 percent less water to grow.

Building on our long-standing barley growers program, we have identified our key growing regions based on a water risk assessment of our global barley supply chain, and we have set a goal to partner with local stakeholders to reduce water risks and improve water management in every one of our key barley-growing regions.

At the same time, our focus on key areas does not mean we are moving away from our core areas of impact. While we are proud of our previous achievements, we can still go further, and we will. As the world's leading brewer, we have a responsibility to our business and to the communities in which we live and work to ensure that we use water as efficiently and conscientiously as possible in our facilities. We have therefore committed to reducing our water use globally from 3.5 hectoliters of water per hectoliter of production (hl/hl) to a leading-edge 3.2 hl/hl by the end of 2017. Reaching this ambitious goal will be tough, but our 150,000 colleagues continually challenge themselves to identify new ways to improve operations and share those insights across the globe.

Our dream to be the Best Beer Company in a Better World and our culture of accountability and continuous improvement is what drives us. Our track record of previous achievements and our new goals embody these values. While ambitious, they will continue to challenge us to improve our operational performance, reduce our environmental impact and improve the long-term sustainability of our company by taking collective action with our stakeholders. Working together, our people will continue to be the driving force behind any improvements we make.

[1] Based on the assumption that an Olympic-sized swimming pool has a volume of 25,000 hectoliters

[2] Based on the assumption that it takes 6.98 MWh to light a night football match

[3] Based on the assumption that one full can of beer weighs 388 grams

[4] LED lighting, eco-friendly refrigerant, and/or energy consumption control