HEINEKEN Malaysia takes sustainability a step further

Brewer successfully balances more than 100% of water used in its products last year, reaching its target 10 years ahead of its 2030 commitments

by AZALEA AZUAR / pic source HEINEKEN Malaysia

BEING one of the first companies in Malaysia to achieve water balancing, Heineken Malaysia Bhd (HEINEKEN Malaysia) had been on the right track for the recent Sustainable Business Award 2020/2021.

HEINEKEN Malaysia’s Corporate Affairs and Legal director Renuka Indrarajah (picture) said the company has successfully balanced more than 100% of water used in its products last year, reaching its target 10 years ahead of its 2030 commitments.

“We will ensure to continue meeting this goal every year, through water stewardship initiatives with non-governmental organisations (NGOs), communities and authorities, and help initiate greater awareness and collective action,” she told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

HEINEKEN Malaysia’s ambitious target is to balance 1.5 litres for every litre of water used in making their products. The additional 0.5 litre makes up for the unavoidable losses from evaporation and moisture included in by-products like spent grains.

Its water balancing achievements were verified against international industry standard methodologies consistent with the Volumetric Water Benefit Accounting framework published by the World Resources Institute, with the results independently validated and verified by LimnoTech, a leading international environmental science and engineering firm based in the US.

“Our efforts to protect water resources are guided by the HEINEKEN Every Drop strategy, a holistic three-pronged approach in protecting water resources. The strategy’s focus areas are Water Efficiency, Water Circularity and Water Stewardship,” Renuka explained.

In regard to water efficiency, HEINEKEN Malaysia targets to reduce its water consumption at the Sungei Way brewery in Petaling Jaya to 2.6 hl/hl by 2030 and as of 2020, they have reduced water consumption by 15.5% since 2014. The company also maximises water circularity by treating 100% of their wastewater beyond the standards of the Department of Environment and they aim to maximise recovery, reuse and recycling in the coming years.

HEINEKEN Malaysia’s water stewardship aim is to fully balance the water used in their products by protecting the watershed and water resources. The water stewardship initiatives are carried out through their Working Actively Through Education and Rehabilitation (W.A.T.E.R) Project, a partnership between HEINEKEN Malaysia’s corporate social responsibility arm SPARK Foundation and Global Environment Centre, an environmental NGO.

HEINEKEN Malaysia has invested close to RM13.5 million in protecting Malaysia’s water resources through its W.A.T.E.R Project. Its first initiative was the rehabilitation of Sungai Way, an urban river situated right besides the brewery that was classified as a dead river with water quality level at Class 4-5 (extremely polluted).

With collective action by various authorities and communities, the river transformed into a living river and is now at Class 3 (suitable for living organisms). “We did this not only through technical or engineering interventions, but by engaging the communities of neighbouring Desa Mentari to care for this river together,” Renuka added.

With the success of restoring Sungai Way, the W.A.T.E.R Project’s Phase Two in 2012 focused on three tributaries of Sungai Kinta in Perak: Sungai Senam, Sungai Buntong and Sungai Kledang. The programme was focused on educational outreach to raise awareness on river care to local communities.

In 2018, the company launched Phase 3 where it shifted its focus from river rehabilitation to watershed health protection, with an aim to be 100% water balanced. HEINEKEN Malaysia’s water supply comes from Sungai Selangor and its initiatives were then focused on protecting the watershed health by constructing a 305m clay dyke and reforesting 1ha of peatland at the Raja Musa Forest Reserve, Hulu Selangor, for long-term sustainability of the watershed.

Through the W.A.T.E.R Project, 16 rainwater harvesting systems were built and maintained in Sungai Selangor and Sungai Penchala river basins, which provide communities access to alternative water sources while reducing their reliance on treated water. With the help of these rainwater harvesting systems, the community saved almost 4.6 million litres of water yearly.

The rainwater harvesting systems are linked to 10 community garden projects, which help in supplementing income and food — on average 9,000kg harvest worth RM30,000 per year.

According to Renuka, HEINEKEN Malaysia has also been working with communities in East Malaysia since 2012, with five rainwater harvesting systems and one gravity water system built to provide access to an estimated 2.8 million litres of potable water for over 5,000 villagers in six villages across Sabah.

“Through this, we hope to increase the supply of water to provide access to clean water to remote villages across the state,” she said.

HEINEKEN Malaysia also champions other sustainability efforts guided by HEINEKEN’s global Brew A Better World (BaBW) commitments like reducing its environmental impact, investing in social sustainability and advocating for responsible consumption. As of 2020, they have reduced emissions by 15% since 2014 and has practiced zero waste to landfill since 2017 through recycling.

“We will work towards achieving our BaBW targets to ensure the longterm sustainability, and continue making meaningful and transparent contribution to the environment, social impact and responsible consumption,” Renuka concluded.