Beverage industry publishes environmental reporting guidance

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Greenhouse gas

Leading companies and trade groups in the beverage industry have clubbed together to draw up guidance for greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting.

The newly published document is the product of a collaboration conducted through the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) and follows the completion of an interim draft in October 2008.

Big names from across the industry from Diageo to the Coca-Cola Company and the American Beverage Association joined the BIER to develop the united approach to GHG reporting.

The new document built on existing global protocols including the Greenhouse Gas Protocol and Publically Available Specification 2050 to develop guidance specifically for the beverage sector.

Specific guidance

These existing protocols were not enough on their own to give a complete picture for the drinks sector. “The primary challenge we faced pertained to areas of the beverage value chain which were not discussed in great detail in existing methodologies,” ​said Tod Christenson, director of BIER.

“These included guidance pertaining to beverage refrigeration at point of sale, maturation of distilled spirits and wines, and the allocation of benefits of recycled materials.”

To fill in these gaps, BIER worked with its members to define approaches that were consistent with the general methodologies.

Two approaches

Beverage companies seeking to report GHG emissions can use the new guidelines to report on a product or enterprise inventory level. This means that they can either consider the total emissions related to a company’s operations or the emissions from the manufacture, use, and disposal of a functional unit a product such as a 750ml bottle of spirits.

Christenson said: “As far as we know, BIER’s sector guidance is unique compared to other sector-specific guidance that exists in other industries because ours covers both approaches to GHG calculations.”

BIER has no specific targets related to the number of companies or the percentage of the industry that will use the new guidance document.

But the group, which has attracted 16 of the biggest global beverage company, hopes that the document will help the industry avoid problems down the line associated with disjointed efforts.

According to BIER, the absence of a united approach could lead to complications such as competing or incompatible methodologies, accounting practices not aligned with emerging legislation, more limited influence on emerging regulation, and/or confusing and potentially misleading product carbon labels.

BIER said that by using the new guidance to report GHG emissions, beverage companies can meet growing demands from customers seeking more environmentally-friendly products and governments looking to regulate and incentivize industry to reduce emissions.

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