Protecting Water Resources

Why is this important?

Global demand for water has doubled during the past 50 years and is expected to increase by another 40% by 2030. In water-scarce areas this may result in increased competition for water among industry, the general population, agriculture and ecosystems.

We use water in our finished product – beer is 95% water – and throughout our supply chain, including in the maintenance and growth of crops. We understand the critical importance of sustainable use and protection of water to safeguard this precious resource.

As one of the world’s largest brewers, and a signatory to the United Nations CEO Water Mandate, we recognise that we have a responsibility to promote responsible water use and encourage our suppliers to do the same.

We describe our approach for addressing water-related issues around the world as ‘Water Stewardship’. For all our water-related investments, we consider how they benefit the wider community, not just our breweries.

For examples of this in practice, see our case studies from around the globe and our 2013 Sustainability Report.

Our priorities

HEINEKEN has established these focus areas related to water stewardship:

  • Reduce the amount of water used in production
  • Ensure the responsible discharge of brewery effluent
  • Reduce the amount of water used in the rest of our supply chain, notably agriculture
  • Protect our water resources in water-scarce and water-distressed areas
  • Compensate for the water that is not returned to the local water cycle: ‘water balancing’.

We focus on these areas with two goals in mind: reduce water consumption by addressing avoidable losses, and minimise our impact by balancing (where possible) the water we use that cannot be returned to the local watershed (particularly for water-scarce and water-distressed areas). This includes the water in our products and unavoidable evaporation when we produce beer. By stimulating, financing and supporting water initiatives we can help conserve or restore the watershed.

Reducing Water Consumption

By 2020, we aim to reduce water consumption in our breweries by 30%. To achieve this, we’re sharing best-practice throughout the group, investing in water-efficient technologies, and benchmarking our breweries.

Protecting Water Resources

In order to use our resources most effectively, we have mapped and prioritised 23 production sites around the world in terms of water related risk. For each site we set up a Source Water Vulnerability Assessment to determine how vulnerable a local area is in terms of water risk. A Source Water Protection Programme is then completed, providing a step-by-step method for evaluating and implementing water protection measures.

Balancing Water Demand

To protect our water resources in water-scarce and water-distressed areas, we work to redress the water balance by financing and supporting local projects that aim to: conserve or restore water quantity, quality or biodiversity in the local watershed; and/or improve access to clean water for the local communities.

Videos from this campaign

Content from this campaign


Monterrey unites to protect its water

More from HEINEKEN (Global)

  1. Sourcing Sustainably
    Why is this important?As global demand for food continues to grow, responsible agriculture and sourcing have never been more important.The key issue...
  2. Responsible Consumption
    Why is this important?Beer is a natural product enjoyed by hundreds of millions of people around the world. For most adults it is, and can be, part of...
  3. Sustainability at HEINEKEN
    Sustainability has been fundamental to the HEINEKEN Company since our business began, and it lies at the heart of everything we do.Brewing a Better...
  4. Growing with communities
    Why is this important?While it has always been key to our sustainability strategy, Growing with communities was added as a pillar of Brewing a Better...
  5. Protecting Water Resources
    Why is this important?Global demand for water has doubled during the past 50 years and is expected to increase by another 40% by 2030. In water-scarce...
  6. Reducing CO₂Emissions
    Why is this important?CO2 emissions directly contribute to climate change, causing temperatures and sea levels to rise. This in turn has an impact on...
  7. Promoting health and safety
    Why is this important?Keeping our employees healthy and safe remains our top priority. Our colleagues are key to all that we do, and health and safety...