A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about what the mainstream beer companies were doing to be more environmentally friendly. One of those companies, MillerCoors, just released their 2009 Sustainable Development Report.

The report, From Grain to Grass, reviews what the company is doing across all aspects of its operations to ensure their goals for sustainability are being met.

One of the things I like about the report is that it just doesn’t focus on environmental sustainability. That’s very important, of course, but people are important, too. The report also details what the company is doing in areas such alcohol responsibility and community investment – impressive.

The report is divided into five major sections:

• Promoting the responsible consumption of our products
• Embedding environmental sustainability in our organization
• Creating a sustainable supply chain
• Investing in our people and communities
• Modeling ethical practices and transparency in our reporting

Here are some of the things that struck me as impressive from the report – some environmental, some not.

  • By 2010, the average distance a beer shipment will travel to market will be reduced by nearly 20 percent and result in 45 million fewer miles traveled annually – a reduction of nearly 75,000 tons of carbon emissions. This is partly because of the merger between Miller and Coors. More factories in more locations mean fewer miles traveled.
  • MillerCoors is working on a pilot program with farmers in Idaho to grow winter barley. The barley ripens earlier in the year because it can be planted in the fall and tolerates the harshness of winter. Less water and electricity are used in the irrigation process - an impact of 2.7 million gallons of water and 1,750 kilowatt hours of electricity.
  • The established water usage target set by the United Nations Environment Program for brewers worldwide is 5.00 barrels of water for each barrel of beer produced. In 2008, MillerCoors recorded a 4.10:1.00 water-to-beer ratio. In 2010, they will aim to reduce that ratio to 3.96:1:00.
  • At their Georgia brewery, employees formed a recycling and sustainability team that focuses solely on solid waste reduction. They created a wood recycling program that allows for all wood scraps to be turned into yard mulch and established a new program for recycling plastics of all kinds – hard hats, safety glasses, conveyor chains and stretch wraps.
  • Over the past several years, employee volunteers have collectively posted more than 60,000 hours per year.
  • MillerCoors Free Rides™ is a program that leverages public transportation in key cities to offer a free and safe transit method, timed around major holiday celebrations and local events. 1.8 million people have taken advantage of this program.
  • They are saving 10.4 million pounds of aluminum per year and $10.1 million due to a small reduction in the diameter of aluminum can ends.
These are just a few of the many, many things that MillerCoors is doing to be a more sustainable company. I can’t recount all of the information in the 44-page report, but I invite you to take a look at it yourself and see if you think that MillerCoors is heading in a positive direction with their sustainability efforts.


Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

MillerCoors heads towards sustainability
What is the mainstream beer company doing to reduce its impact on the earth? Lots.