AB InBev VP: Our quest for ‘agile’ sustainable development continues

May 19, 2020 by  
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AB InBev VP: Our quest for ‘agile’ sustainable development continues Heather Clancy Tue, 05/19/2020 – 02:37 Like most big companies with a complex multinational footprint, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s sales slipped in the first quarter and the beer maker is embracing new financial discipline amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the company also has  acted quickly to prop up key members of its value chain — from small liquor stores to farmers to  restaurants  — and the situation has galvanized its long-term corporate sustainability plans, according to Ezgi Barcenas, vice president of global sustainability for AB InBev. “We really cannot lose these learnings and agility, and I think that’s been a great learning and contribution of the pandemic — helping us to be more agile and to be more collaborative,” she told GreenBiz during an interview in early May. The beermaker’s 2025 goals pledge bold advances in water strategy, returnable or recyclable packaging, renewable energy procurement (its U.S. division in 2019 signed the  beer industry’s largest power purchase agreement  to date) and support for farmers adopting regenerative agriculture practices. Barcenas, the executive responsible for managing that plan and part of the GreenBiz 2020 Badass Women in Sustainability list , joined the company seven years ago. She’s also in charge of the 100+ Sustainability Accelerator, dedicated to startups that can bring technology-enabled innovation to AB InBev’s operations. Below is a transcript of our interview about how the company’s sustainability team is focusing amid the pandemic. The Q&A was lightly edited for length and clarity. Heather Clancy: How has the pandemic changed the immediate focus of the AB InBev sustainability team? Ezgi Barcenas : I really feel like this global situation is a stress test for sustainable development, compelling all of us to think about it more holistically, more collaboratively, and to be more flexible and continue to work together to create value for our entire value chain.  So, I would say when we think about the changes on the immediate focus of our team, I think it’s important to remember that beer is an actual product, and for centuries we’ve really relied on healthy environments and thriving communities. And most of our operations are local, so our sustainability strategy is really deeply connected to the communities and the business … What it’s doing is, it’s, in fact, galvanizing us and our partners to continue to work together and make really impact where it matters the most.  Clancy: What happens to long-term plans? Are they still going on alongside that? Barcenas: As you can imagine, we had to pivot some of our focus towards short-term mitigation plans but continue to power through towards our mid-to-longer-term plans as well. And our commitment in sustainability, our 2025 goals, they remain the same.  I think what I’m really seeing now is the agility and the sense of community that our teams are bringing around the world. And not just sustainability, right? So, sustainability at AB InBev is housed under procurement, so we have a great relationship with our procurement colleagues who are really delivering that impact and executing against those long-term commitments of our supply chain.  But also, our operations teams, logistic teams, our corporate affairs teams, we’re really working hard in creating that local impact today from the donation of masks and emergency relief water to providing hand sanitizers. We’ve figured out how to make them and donate them to our supply chain partners — to launching digital platforms to support bars and restaurants. Those are some of the immediate efforts that the teams have taken on. But at the same time, we’re really full speed ahead on those long-term commitments.  Our commitment in sustainability, our 2025 goals, they remain the same.   As we’re seeing signs of recovery around the world, our team is energized about continuing to work towards those longer-term commitments, towards the [United Nations Sustainable Development Goals]. One thing for sure: We really cannot lose these learnings and agility, and I think that’s been a great learning and contribution of the pandemic — helping us to be more agile and to be more collaborative. Clancy: You already referenced supply chains. This situation has made the vulnerability of certain types of supply chains very visible to the world. How have you worked to ensure the safety and sustainability of your partners within the supply chain?  Barcenas : Supply chain resilience is being tested with this — all the COVID-19 disruptions around the world, forcing countries and companies like ours to rethink our sourcing strategy, refocus our efforts. I would say we’re fortunate in that our operations — with operations in nearly 50 countries around the world our supply chain is much shorter and less complex than you’d think. We have historically invested heavily: We have been investing heavily in local sourcing and creating those local supply chains wherever possible. In fact, we always like to give this number out: We buy, make and sell over 90 percent of our products locally. So, you can think of us as a global company, but our local footprint is really deeply rooted in our operations. That connection hasn’t really changed.  Maybe one example. If you think about agriculture, right? Beer is made of natural materials. Raw material sourcing is really fundamental to the quality of our products. We take great pride in the quality of our raw materials that in turn can help us create some of the most admired brands in the world. And in doing that, in working closely with the farmers, we help contribute towards their livelihoods. And we work with tens of thousands of smallholder farmers around the world.  During the pandemic, one example I can give is how our agronomists are continuing to support our farmers remotely, even if they cannot do field visits, which usually that’s their way of working. They will go out onto the field and visit them in person, talk through their challenges, provide better management and technology tools for them. Right now, they’re doing all of that remotely.  We’re also working to ensure that there is proper sanitation and safety measures, for example, at buying centers. So, keeping those buying centers open — like barley buying centers and other raw materials — and up and running is really huge for farmer cash flow, if you think about it. So, we’re really working to maintain these wherever possible. That’s short-term efforts. In terms of mid-term, long-term, how are we helping our supply chain, especially on the ag front: We’re doing scenario planning with partners like TechnoServe to better understand the impacts on smallholder supply chains, so that it can better inform our ag support services moving forward, as well as our sourcing. Clancy: How has the situation affected your packaging commitments and recycling strategy, if at all? Barcenas : I want to highlight how our packaging sustainability journey has really accelerated — in 2012, when we came out with a commitment to remove 100,000 metric tons of packaging materials globally to when you fast forward to 2018, when we came out with our new public commitments to protect and promote a circular economy.  Today, as part of our 2025 goal, our focus is to make sure all of our products are in packaging that is returnable or made from a majority of recycled content. So, that’s our vision and our commitment.  You can think of us as a global company, but our local footprint is really deeply rooted in our operations.   It is a sad reality that around the world we’re seeing waste management services and recycling programs being impacted. In some markets, they’re deemed essential and in others they’re not. And yes, we are seeing impacts of this, too. What we do in those cases is continue to partner with the recycling cooperatives to mitigate the impact and to ensure the livelihoods of our partners, as well. And to achieve that circular packaging vision, there are a number of things we do. Reuse, reduce, recycle, rethink is how we think about that, and we try to identify gaps in our current ways of working, or technological gaps so that we can identify scalable solutions.  One pilot that is actually currently underway that we kicked off about a month and a half ago is with this startup called Nomo Waste  [Spanish]. It’s a startup in Colombia that is part of 100+ Sustainability Accelerator. We are working with them now on collecting the bottles that get lost in the supply chain, “lost” in the supply chain … to bring them back to the breweries or back to the suppliers, so that bottles can be reused to continue to reduce waste in the supply chain.  We’re also working with another accelerator startup from our first cohort called BanQu … It’s this blockchain technology that we used in our smallholder farm supply chain. Now we’re implementing the same technology with our recycling supply chain — trying to improve the traceability of that bottle and therefore improve the financial inclusion of our recyclers or the waste pickers in the city of Bogota.  Clancy: I wanted to ask about the 100+ program. So, can you offer a status report? Barcenas : We had our first cohort applications back in 2018. We received over 600 applications in our first year, and we were really proud of it. It was born because when we set our 2025 sustainability goals, if you look at it, the language is 100 percent of direct farmers, 100 percent of communities in high-risk watersheds, et cetera.  When we were going through the strategy-setting or the goal-setting process we asked ourselves — we had a candid conversation in the company and with our partners: How sure are we that we’re going to hit these goals by 2025 based on existing solutions and ways of working, partnerships out there? We noticed that there was a clear gap in ensuring, for example, that 100 percent of our farmers will be financially empowered.  The 100+ Accelerator was born out of that to try and identify solutions for problems that we can’t solve today alone. It’s an open platform. We’re hoping any company can come and join us. In its first year, we had [21] startups in our cohort, and they’ve been hugely successful. Some of them we’ve extended them into multiyear commercial contracts. We’ve taken them to different markets. After the initial success of the pilots, we’re scaling them up. We just had our second round of applications wrap up late last year and had our kickoff meetings earlier in February in New York. We received over 1,200 applications from 30-plus countries, and we narrowed it down to 17 companies. Clancy: Can you give me some examples?  Barcenas : I glazed over BanQu , just a quick plug there. BanQu is a non-crypto blockchain technology that uses an SMS service to record purchasing and sales data. We’re using this now with farmers across Uganda, Zambia and India. We were able to scale this partnership to offer farmers a digital financial aid entity.  What used to happen is that these farmers did not really formally exist in our supply chain. They couldn’t go and open a bank account. They couldn’t get crop insurance. They couldn’t get a loan. By giving them a digital record of the transaction, they are able to prove that they are part of our supply chain. And we’re helping them with the digital capabilities as well. We’re offering digital payments, which in turn reduces their cash transactions and therefore lowers their risk for themselves and their families. So, we’re really proud of this. And now, this BanQu technology that we piloted in the ag supply chain we’re bringing to our recycling supply chains as well in Colombia, for example.  Another one, maybe just a quick one: EWTech  [Spanish] is another startup that we piloted in Colombia as part of our first cohort, a great example of how innovation can continue to drive efficiencies in our operational processes. What EWTech does is they offer a green replacement for caustic soda, which we use in the industrial cleaning process. In the pilot test in Bucaramanga, we found out that EWTech’s more sustainable solution, the green solution that they offered, actually showed a 70 percent reduction in water usage versus traditional disinfecting chemicals, 60 percent reduction in cleaning cycle time, which resulted in savings on energy, in freeing up time on bottling lines. So, this was a huge success for us, both from a financial and from an environmental point of view. We are now in the process of figuring out how we can roll this out across many more breweries in the middle Americas — so, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador. Of course, with the pandemic things are getting a little bit delayed, but it is our mission to, again, scale this innovation that we identified that is delivering great results for the business and also for the world. Media Authorship Anheuser-Busch Close Authorship Clancy: Can you offer a progress report on the fleet electrification strategy?  Barcenas : Transportation is about 9 percent of our global carbon emissions, and our ambition is to reduce our global emissions by 25 percent across the whole value chain by 2025. Most of this lies in Scope 3, and logistics is a piece of that. We are currently piloting a range of different solutions around the world, looking specifically to fleet electrification but also other things — routing efficiencies, other ways to reduce carbon emissions in our logistics operations. We currently have a pilot in each one of our six operating zones around the world … As you can imagine, COVID-19 has caused some delays to the delivery of additional fleet, and that’s slowing down somewhat the pilots. But we are very ambitious in this area and very keen to identify new solutions and confident that we’ll be able to identify and champion these new innovations and continue to electrify our fleet. Clancy: What do you feel is your most important priority as a chief sustainability officer and strategist right now? Barcenas : We always say sustainability is our business, and I think the biggest learning out of this is that we must not lose the momentum, the learnings and the agility that we’ve built up over the last couple of months to really tackle these problems. We’re a global company. We’re learning a lot along the way as the pandemic has spread around the world. We’re becoming more prepared. And we can’t pause now. Right? So, I think that’s another big learning. In fact, we’re working really hard to ensure and restore the resilience of the communities and the supply chains. That’s our No. 1 priority. And not just supply chain, our entire value chain. As I mentioned, we’re working with our key accounts — bars, restaurants, et cetera — to make sure that they can return to their businesses as well as recovery happens. And we’re really thinking, we’re really spending a lot of time thinking about — not just about how to recover or bounce back but also how to come back even stronger than before, how to retain that agility and focus to continue to create that local impact.  Today’s and tomorrow’s toughest challenges, I think, will require us to continue to be agile and learn new ways of working and continue to innovate. At AB InBev, we’re committed to just that: continuously innovating to future-proof our business and our communities, and inspiring our people in the meantime, right? Inspiring our consumers through our brands as well. Pull Quote Our commitment in sustainability, our 2025 goals, they remain the same. You can think of us as a global company, but our local footprint is really deeply rooted in our operations. Topics COVID-19 Food & Agriculture Corporate Strategy Beer Sustainable Development Goals / SDGs Regenerative Agriculture Collective Insight The GreenBiz Interview Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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AB InBev VP: Our quest for ‘agile’ sustainable development continues

Celebrate the second International E-Waste Day

October 14, 2019 by  
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Thanks to its inaugural success last year, the second International E-Waste Day will be observed on October 14, 2019. The day is meant to raise awareness for proper disposal of electrical equipment and electronic devices worldwide. The International E-Waste Day was developed by Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Forum to promote reuse and recycle practices. Consumers are encouraged to proactively increase rates of repairing appliances for recovery and reuse, recycling devices and properly disposing of electronics . Related: Lawmakers are pushing gadget manufacturers with the Right to Repair movement Consumption of computers, phones, other digital devices and household appliances continues to grow rapidly. Often replaced and discarded, this electronic waste, or e-waste, is a big problem for the planet. Ecological repercussions accompany the heightened demand for electronics. Producing this technology exacerbates mining and depleting natural reserves to procure raw materials. E-waste accumulates, threatening the environment with toxic pollution and contamination hazards. The mess can only be alleviated with plans that enable reuse, repair, resale and recycle initiatives. Global estimates project 50 million tons of e-waste will be generated this year. But only a fifth of that will be recycled, while the rest is placed in landfills, burned or illegally treated. Consequences include tremendous losses to valuable supply chain materials. Moreover, negative health, environmental and societal issues arise from irresponsible e-waste management . Collectively, the WEEE Forum implements high-quality standards for e-waste “collection, handling, storage, transport, preparation for reuse, processing and disposal.” Its proprietary software allows member groups and partners to document recycling and recovery quotas to benchmark operations. Similarly, the nonprofit has provided policy recommendations for improved optimization across its member groups. This year, the International Telecommunications Union, a United Nations agency, is partnering with WEEE Forum to ensure global reach. More than 100 member organizations across 40 countries worldwide are expected to join in on activities as part of the second International E-Waste Day. Pascal Leroy, director general of the WEEE Forum, said, “There are many countries worldwide that are currently in the process of implementing e-waste legislation. We are therefore very pleased to have participants from six continents involved in this year’s International E-Waste Day.” Established in 2002, WEEE Forum addresses broadscale e-waste management. The nonprofit is the largest multinational organization harmonizing exchanges of best practices and knowledge on e-waste operations (collection, logistics and processing). To date, the WEEE Forum encompasses 36 producer responsibility groups from 25 countries. Representing the United States, at the moment, are Tennessee’s TERRA (The Electronics Reuse & Recycling Alliance) and Michigan’s VCER (Valley City Electronics Recycling). Whether you repair, reuse , resale, recycle or just spread the word this International E-Waste Day, don’t forget to do your part for the planet. + WEEE Forum Image via Volker Glätsch

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Celebrate the second International E-Waste Day

Stunning green-roofed home in Poland is embedded into the idyllic landscape

October 14, 2019 by  
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Lush green rooftops are becoming more and more common within the architectural world, but this gorgeous house in a remote area of Poland is truly an example of next level green goodness. Designed by architect Przemek Olczyk from Mobius Architekci , the Green Line is a stunning family home that has been almost entirely tucked into its landscape and covered with a thick layer of greenery. Located in the remote region of Warmia, in northern Poland, the 5,380 square-foot family home sits on an expansive landscape of rolling hills covered in wildflowers. The idyllic setting inspired the architect to create a home with a lush green roof and unique architectural form that follows the silhouette of the surrounding landscape. Related: Rural Italian home clad in lush greenery blends into its idyllic surroundings Hence, the Green Line home is embedded into the terrain, only leaving its pitched roof to jut upwards from the ground level. In addition to creating a beautiful home design that is respectful to its topography, the home’s unique design also pays homage to the vernacular found in the region. The gabled peaks of the roof , for example, are made out of wooden lamella detail, a nod to the traditional cottages found in the area, which often have decorated wooden boards arranged in various patterns. Another nod to the local traditions is the home’s unique L-shaped layout, which was inspired by the local farms in the area. However, more than just eye-pleasing aesthetics, the home’s many vernacular features pull double duty as sustainable passive tactics to reduce the home’s energy use. Just by embedding the home into the landscape increases the design’s thermal mass, reducing the need for air conditioning in the hot summer months or heat in the frigid cold winters. Additionally, the high pitched roof creates a light-filled double height space on the interior, opening up space for natural air circulation as well. The L-shaped design also helps protect the home from the heavy winds that kick up often due to the home’s proximity to a large lake. Although the home sits just slightly above the ground level, some strategic design savvy helped create a light-filled interior. Following the topography, the home’s main living area sits adjacent to a slight incline. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls allow for stunning views of the surroundings, as well as flood the living space with natural light . The home’s unique layout was also strategic to creating a comfortable living space. Within the layout, a large open-air courtyard was created to provide the family with plenty of space to entertain, dine and play. + Mobius Architekci Via Dwell Photography by Pawe? Ulatowski

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Stunning green-roofed home in Poland is embedded into the idyllic landscape

Eco-Friendly Digital Currencies: the Future of Our Planet

September 11, 2019 by  
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Cryptocurrency is a hot buzzword in our financial landscape today. … The post Eco-Friendly Digital Currencies: the Future of Our Planet appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Shark fin soup on menus of nearly 200 restaurants, despite state bans

August 2, 2019 by  
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On land, the world is tuning in for Shark Week celebrations, but out in the oceans, the reality for sharks is much more grim. A recent update of the digital database maintained by the Animal Welfare Institute indicates that almost 200 restaurants across the country offer shark fin soup and other shark products despite being banned in more than 12 states. Shark fins are festive delicacies, especially for East Asian communities, but the practice of removing fins from sharks is an abusive tradition condemned by conservationists and animal rights activists around the world. “The United States is a major producer, exporter and trade stop for shark fins,” said Cathy Liss, president of Animal Welfare Institute. “Clearly, the existing patchwork of state laws and uneven enforcement have failed to shut down a lucrative billion-dollar industry. When shark fin soup is on the menu, so is animal cruelty.” Related: Shark fins still being sold in US restaurants amid ban California has the highest number of restaurants offering shark dishes (59 restaurants) despite a full ban on shark fin possession, sale, trade or distribution in 2013. New York passed a similar ban in 2014 but still has 19 restaurants that offer shark products. Bans are also pending in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Approximately 73 million sharks are killed every year just to harvest their fins. The practice often includes the capture of sharks and the bloody removal of their fins while they are still alive. The sharks are then tossed back in the water, where their chances of survival are nearly impossible. This widespread method is considered inhumane and cruel because of the suffering that the sharks endure during and after the removal of their fins. Despite their reputation, sharks are absolutely essential for healthy marine ecosystems . According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, all species of warm-water flat sharks are considered critically endangered except for one. This year, Canada passed a national ban on shark imports and exports, but in the U.S., legislation is still on a limited state-by-state level. + Animal Welfare Institute Image via Alondav

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Shark fin soup on menus of nearly 200 restaurants, despite state bans

Satellites show hope for Brazil’s disappearing Atlantic forest

August 2, 2019 by  
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While international media focuses on the important and devastating losses in the Amazon rainforest, an extensive forest biome along Brazil’s eastern coast is rapidly disappearing. The Mata Atlântica biome hosts incredible biodiversity and is critical for fighting climate change through its massive contribution to carbon sequestration. It is considered one of the most threatened large tropical forest ecosystems, but a new study finally reveals a glimmer of hope — the area of deforestation is bad, but not as bad as it used to be. According to the joint report by Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research and Fundação SOS, heavily deforested areas have nearly 10 percent more forest cover than previous years. Their findings are based on innovative satellite mapping. Related: Deforestation and climate change combined may split Amazon in two “Just as important as analyzing the loss of Mata Atlântica in the last [most recent] period is to look at the historical series and think about prospects going forward,” said André de Almeida Cunha, an ecology professor at the at the University of Brasília. The forest used to stretch down Brazil’s eastern coast and through Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina. Now, it has been reduced to small, fragmented protected areas. The majority of deforestation is because of cattle grazing and land clearing for other agribusiness as well as real estate development. “Mata Atlântica is still the most threatened biome,” explained Pedro Brancalion, a researcher at the University of São Paulo. “The [deforestation] process we see in the Amazon began 500 years ago in Mata Atlântica. There is still deforestation [underway] in Mata Atlântica [today] where biodiversity losses have not been offset by reforestation initiatives.” While the report shows that some reforestation efforts have been successful, not all reforestation is equal. Throughout Brazil and much of the world, some reforestation initiatives have focused on planting monocrop trees for agriculture, such as eucalyptus or palm oil. While these trees are better than nothing, they are eventually harvested and do not provide the benefits of biodiversity . Via Mongabay Image via ICLEI América do Sul

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Satellites show hope for Brazil’s disappearing Atlantic forest

Can the Digital World Encourage Healthy Living?

November 15, 2018 by  
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Can the Digital World Encourage Healthy Living?

Can the Digital World Encourage Healthy Living?

November 15, 2018 by  
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Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the digital transformation

November 6, 2018 by  
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Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the digital transformation

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Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the digital transformation

Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the digital transformation

November 6, 2018 by  
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Kevin Hagen, VP of ESG strategy at Iron Mountain, on the digital transformation

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