Beer is the low-carbon pint, says Adnams

31st October 2013

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  • Life Cycle Analysis



A pint of Adnams beer generates fewer carbon emissions than a pint of milk, according to the UK brewer, which has footprinted all its bottled beers

The Suffolk-based drinks firm undertook lifecycle assessments of its range of 10 bottled beers and found that a pint produced 646g of CO2 equivalent, compared with 800gCO2e generated by a pint of semi-skimmed milk from Tesco.

The brewer and winemaker, which produced the UK’s first carbon neutral beer in 2008, used PAS 2050 to assess the emissions generated in making its 550ml bottles of beer and calculated that emissions ranged from 529gCO2e for a bottle of Southwold Bitter to 711gCO2e for its Spindrift beer.

“Understanding each product’s environmental impact is a complicated and intricate piece of work: it’s not as simple as just measuring electricity usage. Everything was considered, from growing the hops and cereal through to glass manufacture and label production,” said Ben Orchard, environmental sustainability manager at Adnams.

The lifecycle assessment revealed that the firm’s stronger flavoured beers – Broadside, Innovation and Tally-Ho – had higher footprints because they require more cereal, meanwhile the bulk of emissions across all the beers is from the manufacture of the glass bottles.

Adnams has already replaced the signature blue bottle it used for Spindthrift as the result of the carbon footprinting exercise. It revealed that making the heavy, German-manufactured blue glass bottle generated 160gCO2e more than the bottles used for its other beers.

The new brown bottle, introduced this month, is 30% lighter and manufactured in the UK –cutting the distance the bottles travel by 62% – and has cut Spendthrift’s total carbon footprint by 20%.

The brewer now plans to measure the carbon footprint of the rest of its products. “We believe that there is a growing interest and knowledge of these issues amongst Adnams drinkers,” said Richard Carter, Adnams retail management accountant.

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