In light of increasing concern towards environmental issues, many companies have begun to take steps towards making ‘green’ a part of their corporate strategy. For the beverage company Anheuser-Busch, they began with a less-than-stellar reputation, ranking # 40 on a list of one hundred of the top corporate airpolluters in the United States in the year 2002. (Political Economy Research Institute 2002) Since then they have receive significant attention with varying ranges of criticism and praise regarding their attempts to address this.
Their primary initiative in this matter is the reduction of the environmental impact of their business operations. For example, since 1988, Anheuser-Busch has been a founding partner with the Wildlife Habitat Council, and has successfully managed their sites to be friendly to animal and plant wildlife, thereby reducing the extent to which the anthropic qualities of their facilities adversely affect the immediate biodiversity of indigenous wildlife. (McIntire-Strasburg 2008)
In the succeeding half-decade between 1989 and 1994, Anheuser-Busch found markets for post-processing materials that had been previously categorized as solid waste, such as wood chips used in the fermentation of their beers and the resultant sludge generated by brewing activities. The company sells used beechwood chips rather than disposing them outright as waste, sludge is subjected to wastewater treatment via a bioenergy recover system (BERS), and the resultant biosolids are composted into soil conditioner.
As such, not only has the company been able to successfully reduce its solid waste by 70 percent, but its efforts have been recognized with a 1995 Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention from the state of New York, primarily for their state-of-the-art Baldwinsville plant. (Department of Environmental Conservation 1999) The abovementioned bioenergy recovery system is noteworthy because it significantly aids Anheuser-Busch in making their operations more sustainable by ensuring that production is involved in the cogeneration of electricity.
However, Anheuser-Busch has as recently as a few months ago decided to take sustainability of production further by expanding green technologies used in their breweries. Dubbed by the press as a ‘green beer’ initiative, the company declared that it would expand the use of renewable energy to 15 percent of their needs by next year. By using landfill biogas in tandem with their BERS in Houston and photovoltaics in Fairfield, ten out of twelve of their breweries will be using alternative fuels. (Schwartz 2008) Furthermore, the company is taking the potential of wind power for their breweries in California and Colorado.
In past years, this would have been dismissed as mere ‘greenwashing’ – an attempt to use green initiatives as marketing commodities for the sake of a marketing strategy dependent on consumer good will – but with the price of natural gas increasing in recent years, these changes are also part of a series of practical cost-cutting measures. (McWilliams 2008) However, it would be a mistake to think that Anheuser-Busch does not recognize the potential that green has to generate consumer goodwill.
The company has actively projected a spotlight on not just its environmentally sensitive operations, but on the issues that the new zeitgeist of environmentalism has made relevant again in the 21st century such as conservation, recycling, wildlife preservation, primarily by holding events to foster a similar sense of awareness in its own employees. (Paraino 2008)
McIntire-Strasburg, Jeff. “Beer and Alligators: Ten Anheuser-Busch Facilities Also Serve As Wildlife Habitat. ” The Inspired Economist, 19 November 2008. Retrieved online on February 2, 2009 from: http://inspiredeconomist.com/2008/11/19/beer-and-alligators-ten-anheuser-busch-facilities-also-serve-as-wildlife-habitat/ Political Economy Research Institute. The Toxic 100: Top Corporate Air Polluters in the United States. 30 January 2009. Amherst, Massachusetts: Political Economy Research Institute. Retrieved online on February 1, 2009 from: http://www. peri. umass. edu/Toxic-100-Table. 265. 0. html Department of Environmental Conservation. 1995 Winners: NYS Governor’s Awards for Pollution Prevention. 8 March 1999. Albany, New York: Department of Environmental Conservation. Retrieved online on February 1, 2009 from: http://www. dec. ny. gov/public/22539. html