World Water Day 2012: Water Stewardship Key to Sustainable Food & Canadian Beer Production
Canada’s popular image is a natural one: snow-capped mountains, fields of grain and clear, blue lakes. Certainly, Canada has some of the most abundant freshwater sources in the world. But this precious resource isn’t infinite.Â Water stewardship is critical to future water sustainability. March 22 marks the 20th World Water Day – an annual day declared by the United Nations that underscores water’s importance in our daily lives and our future. World Water Day 2012′s theme of “Water and Food Security” highlights that sustainably feeding the world’s population depends on freshwater conservation.
Canadian consumers may not think about the amount of water used in the food and drinks they consume. But many Canadian food manufacturing companies have been. And few Canadian industries have taken larger strides to reduce water consumption than Canada’s national brewers.
The reason is simple: water is beer’s primary ingredient. Without clean water, Canada’s brewers wouldn’t be able to continue supplying Canadians with their signature products.
Over the past two decades, Canadian brewers have reduced how much water is used in brewing by over 50%, with the largest brewers leading the pack.
Charlie Angelakos, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Labatt Breweries of Canada says “water is critical because it is both a finite resource and integral to brewing. Labatt employees implemented 815 water conservation innovations over the past few years alone.”
“MolsonCoors tracks water usage at each of our breweries. We care about every drop we use and every ripple we leave,” agrees Ferg Devins, Chief Public Affairs Officer in Canada for MolsonCoors.
“Small changes, like reducing water pressure when washing bottles, yield significant consumption savings,” adds Peter Chubb, Director, Industry Affairs, Sleeman Breweries Ltd.
Deposit-return systems for beer containers – where consumers pay a deposit on each bottle or can purchased which is refunded upon returning the empty bottle or can – enables beer consumers to participate in water conservation.
Across Canada, beer consumers return over 90% of bottles and cans they purchase. Recycling bottles, cans and the cases they’re sold in saves billions of litres of water each year. “Reusable bottles, like those used by Canada’s brewers, use 50-80% less water than single-use bottles,” notes Franz Hartmann, Executive Director of the Toronto Environmental Alliance.
The efforts of Canada’s national brewers alone won’t solve food security. But their results show that sustainable water usage can go hand-in-hand with sustainable food production. We can all raise a glass to that – on World Water Day or any other day.