WWF has already worked with SABMiller to help the company reduce its water and energy consumption in Colombia, Honduras, and El Salvador.
Andy Wales, global head of sustainability at SABMiller, told BeverageDaily.com that the decision to create the Water Futures partnership formalises their relationship and takes it from a local to a global level.
Under the new partnership WWF will help SABMiller to tackle water security in Peru, Tanzania, South Africa and Ukraine by first identifying risks and then developing water management strategies.
Evaluating and tackling water quality and quantity risks will see the organisations working with other water users to establish the origin of water scarcity problems and develop management strategies.
In Honduras, for example, WWF and SABMiller have worked with sugar cane farmers supplying its Coca Cola plant to develop more cost-effective and sustainable farming practice.
While this illustration looks at water use in the SABMiller supply chain, Wales said the Water Futures partnership extends beyond the company “fence line”, covering water use by other companies and governments.
Water security report
SABMiller is highly dependent on water, and with other major water users including Nestle and Coca-Cola, the company commissioned McKinsey & Co to draw up a report on water scarcity.
Wales said he hoped the report would demonstrate to governments the extent to which water underpins economic growth. SABMiller along with other major food and drink companies are calling on governments to invest more today to secure the water supply of tomorrow.
SABMiller is also working to reduce its own water consumption. Last November it announced plans to cut its own water use from 4.6 litres for every litre of beer produced to 3.5 litres by 2015.
Steps taken and envisaged on the road to lower water consumption include investment in better equipment, more water efficient methods of pasteurisation and simpler changes in practice. For example, water that is used to clean bottles may be reused to clean kegs.
Wales said the 2015 targets had “energised the business” on the water issue and that progress has been really encouraging, especially in India and Africa. A full progress will be published at the end of the financial year.