“We are deeply committed to environmental sustainability and recently announced our highly ambitious 2025 Sustainability Goals. These include a commitment to reducing greenhouse emissions by 25% across the value chain…”
In this interview, Bill Bradley, VP, Community Affairs at Anheuser-Busch explains how his business is assisting with both climate change resiliency, in the form of disaster relief with clean water, and climate change mitigation, in the form of greenhouse gas reduction across his business model. Tim Nixon, Managing Editor, Thomson Reuters Sustainability. Tim Nixon, Managing Editor, Thomson Reuters Sustainability.
Tim: With a major hurricane hitting the east coast, could the new clean-water facility provide assistance?
Bill: First and foremost our thoughts go out to the communities that may be potentially impacted by Hurricane Florence.
Yes, Fort Collins potentially could provide assistance. We now have two breweries in the U.S. that can provide safe, clean drinking water to our local communities when natural disasters arise: Fort Collins, which is coming online today and our Cartersville Brewery in Georgia. In this instance, given the proximity of the Cartersville brewery to communities threatened by Hurricane Florence, that brewery is the logical Anheuser-Busch facility to produce and deliver the emergency water. We have just received a request from the American Red Cross, and are sending 300,000 cans, or six truckloads, due to arrive in coming days to communities at risk from Hurricane Florence.
For context, this year, we recognized the employees who help make this water donation program possible in Budweiser’s Super Bowl commercial. When we launched that commercial, we announced a new commitment to expand our capacity to produce and can drinking water for disaster relief at our Fort Collins Brewery in Colorado, so that we can deliver water more quickly from coast to coast when disaster hits. Today we are delivering on that promise and launching this capability with a long-planned event and first production run at our Fort Collins Brewery.
Tim: Do you envision expanding this capability to new locations nationally or globally?
Bill: With the combination of our Cartersville and Fort Collins Breweries, we’re able to quickly deliver safe, clean drinking water to those in need from coast to coast, in partnership with our wholesaler partners. Of course, we are always looking for ways to improve, and will assess future needs as they arise. Today, we are excited to bring the Fort Collins brewery online, fulfilling our Super Bowl commitment, and at the same time we are focused on providing safe, clean drinking water to support communities threatened by Hurricane Florence from our Cartersville Brewery. The water donations program already exists in several other countries, inspired by the U.S. program.
Tim: Will the emergency water be free to the public?
Bill: Yes, of course. Last year, we provided more than three million cans of emergency drinking water to communities hit by natural disasters across the country. We would never seek, nor have we received, any payment for any part of this program.
In 2018, the Anheuser-Busch Foundation once again donated $1 million to the American Red Cross through its Annual Disaster Giving Program. As a member of the Annual Disaster Giving Program, we pledge donations on an ongoing basis in advance of disasters to help ensure the American Red Cross can take immediate action for communities in need. We are inspired by the work that the American Red Cross does and are humbled to play a modest part in their relief efforts.
Tim: Why did AB decide to do this in the first place?
Bill: A deep commitment to the communities where we live and work has been woven into the fabric of our company since its very beginning more than 165 years ago. We also have a long-term partnership with the Red Cross that dates back to the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. In the most difficult of times, we believe that one of the best ways we can help our communities is by putting our production and logistic strengths to work. Our 18,000 employees are proud and grateful that we’ve been able to provide more than 79 million cans of emergency drinking water since this program’s inception.
Last year, we found that we couldn’t deliver water to communities in California affected by wildfires as quickly as we wanted to. The water has to be transported by truck, and it took a few days, as you would expect, to drive the water from Georgia to California. So the decision to bring the Fort Collins brewery online as well will help us to address that west coast need.
Tim: Is this kind of community service and engagement something you are seeing more broadly in your industry?
Bill: One of the reasons we are so proud and passionate about American brewing is that our industry takes its corporate citizenship very seriously and is deeply committed to serving American communities across the country. Brewers large and small have taken meaningful steps to make our communities stronger, safer and more sustainable for future generations through initiatives around environmental sustainability, responsible drinking, diversity and inclusion, to name just a few important areas. When you think about it, brewing is a very local business – we source our key ingredients – barley, rice and hops – locally and 98% of what we brew in the U.S. is consumed in the U.S. We also distribute our beers through a national network of over 400 local wholesalers. So we are closely connected to our local communities.
Being a leading U.S. company and the leader of our U.S. beer industry means more than brewing great beer; it means using our resources to give back to the communities.
Our water donation program is itself part of a very long tradition at Anheuser-Busch of working with the Red Cross to help our communities in times of need. We’re really pleased to see how that tradition lives on today, and we absolutely welcome other brewers who share our commitment to giving back to the community. It is American brewing at its best.
Tim: Has AB committed to a public climate change policy, and to emissions reduction across its business model with specific targets and timeframes?
Bill: We are deeply committed to environmental sustainability and recently announced our highly ambitious 2025 Sustainability Goals. These include a commitment to reducing greenhouse emissions by 25% across the value chain and purchasing 100% of electricity from renewable sources by 2025 globally. By committing to these ambitious goals, and investing to achieve them, we hope to inspire other companies to take similar actions.