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Partnering for Sustainable Water Technologies

The Danish-based brewery group, Carlsberg, has set ambitious climate goals to which eliminating water waste will be central. In May 2021, its first total water recycling plant opened, leading a world-wide transformation. At the Fredericia brewery in Denmark, the brewery will recycle 90% of all process water and halve previous water use on site while cutting energy consumption by 10%.

Whether producing soft drink or beer, water stays as a main ingredient at breweries. Today, droughts and water shortages are leading to rationed use of water around the world and therefore, water-efficient technologies are a prerequisite for operating new markets for companies that traditionally have a large water consumption, such as breweries.

Partnering to minimise water waste

Carlsberg is part of the Danish public-private partnership for Resource and water efficient Industrial food Production (DRIP) to address the problem of water waste in the food industry. Through the DRIP partnership, Carlsberg has tapped into the combined knowledge of academic institutions and technology companies which has helped the brewery in Denmark to find the right partners to develop solutions that can further reduce water waste.

Water consumption for beer production will be reduced from 2.9 to 1.4 hl of water/hl of beer. For soft drinks, the reduction is 1.5 to 1.2 hl of water/hl of soft drink

At the Fredericia brewery, new technologies have always been used to ensure a high degree of water efficiency. When the brewery first opened in 1979, the water-to-beer ratio was 4:1 at a time when the global norm was above 6:1. In 2019, the Fredericia brewery was selected as a test site for Carlsberg’s first total water recycling plant.

When the recycling plant opens, the process wastewater from cleaning of equipment and packaging material is directed to the wastewater treatment and water recycling (Water Recovery) plant. The water is treated to remove nutrients and organic material, passed through a sterile filtration membrane to remove bacteria and then rinsed through a second tighter membrane that removes salt. In other words: The solution makes it the first brewery in the world to practically eliminate all water waste.

Flagship for sustainability programme

With the new wastewater treatment and recycling plant, Carlsberg aims to reduce the average water consumption in beer production to 1.4 hectolitres (hl) of water per hl. of beer and in soft drinks production to 1.2 hl. of water per hl. of soft drinks. The project is a flagship for Carlberg’s Together Towards ZERO sustainability programme. It consists of four ambitions: ZERO carbon footprint, ZERO water waste, ZERO irresponsible drinking and a ZERO accidents culture. Each of these is underpinned by individual measurable targets to be achieved by 2022 or 2030.