How can drinking beer help the environment? We know breweries can take steps to make operations more sustainable or reduce their impact, but can a beer itself be a positive force? According to Costa Rica-based Cerveza Imperial, yes, in fact, it can.
Cerveza Imperial claims to be the world’s first “water positive” beer. To accomplish its water positive mission, Ceveza Imperial has adopted the following four-step process of measure, reduce, compensate and create positive value in achieving a positive water footprint:
1. Measure. Analyze and measure the entire production water footprint including all suppliers and water used in the distribution process.
2. Reduce. Once a benchmark is established, the operation team develops processes that reduce water usage in the brewing, fermenting and packaging process, achieving an average 44 percent reduction in water usage over the last nine years while increasing production 70 percent.
3. Compensation. The third step is “offsetting” water being used in the production process and supply chain by “returning” water to the eco-system for water use. Cerveza Imperial protects more than 600 hectares (1,482 acres) of the Costa Rican tropical forest that are critical in trapping rainwater, recharging the natural water basins and protecting the quality of the water by reducing runoff.
4. Create Positive Value. Cerveza Imperial partners with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to improve access to fresh water, conserve fresh water, clean fresh water and sustain fresh water. This water positive designation has been bestowed on Imperial by ISO14046 international guidelines and reviewed by the Life Cycle Analysis and Sustainable Design center in Mexico and will be verified each year by the Institute of Technical Standards of Costa Rica.
“We have committed to a revolutionary concept of being the world’s first and only water positive beer, a unique approach that allows us to return more fresh water to the environment than we use,” said Gisela Sanchez, Cerveza Imperial’s corporate affairs director. “Imperial analyzed its entire water footprint in sourcing, brewing and transporting our beer to understand our total water impact. We looked for ways to not only reach water neutrality by reducing and compensating the water we use but to actually improve upon the availability of fresh water in Costa Rica.”
Try it for yourself
Cerveza Imperial will be taking its water positive ethos to the United States, choosing San Diego as one of two markets along with Denver for its re-launch. To spread its water positive concept of “giving more than it takes,” Imperial will partner with Surfrider Foundation San Diego, California Surf Museum, Aaron Chang and various clean-up events throughout San Diego County to help fund and support efforts to restore and sustain San Diego’s clean water initiatives.
As a result, San Diegans are helping to save the environment by drinking Imperial products, Sanchez said.
In order to give back to San Diego, Cerveza Imperial is investing in Surfrider Foundation San Diego’s No Border Sewage Program to support clean water advocacy and the advancement of the Tijuana River Valley Recovery Plan.
“Imperial’s assistance with this program allows us to fund a much-needed part-time bilingual policy manager who can work with agencies on both sides of the border, work with federal and local elected officials and advocate for change in the region,” said Jake Sneeden, chair of the executive committee for Surfrider Foundation San Diego.