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Barbara-Anne Richardson, Communications and Sustainability Manager at HEINEKEN Ireland, reflects on a busy first year working for a company that is aiming to ‘Brew a Better World’

Date:8th November 2019

This time last year as I started working as HEINEKEN Ireland’s Communications and Sustainability Manager, I was immediately struck by the degree to which sustainability permeates every part of the brewery and business.   Everyone has a view or an opinion and this helps when you are trying to champion it throughout the business.

My time has been marked by a number of stand-out sustainability moments. One of the first and most significant was within my first few weeks, when HEINEKEN Ireland became the first drinks company in Ireland to achieve the Business Working Responsibly mark from Business in the Community, in recognition of the responsible and sustainable business practices. As the only independently audited standard for sustainability in Ireland, the transparency that this auditing process brings is very strong.

Building on this I was proud to oversee HEINEKEN Ireland become one of the founding signatories to Ireland’s first carbon pledge with Business in the Community which publicly committed the company, along with 51 other firms, to achieving a further 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

As part of this program there has been a focus has been on embracing green electricity to further reduce carbon emissions. Today, 100% of the electric power used in the production of our beers and ciders comes from Raheen wind farm in Mayo which is a green, zero-emissions wind-powered source.  The forklift fleet has been replaced with new electrically powered forklift trucks which has delivered a reduction in carbon footprint of 112 tonnes per year. This is the equivalent of taking almost 10 family cars off the road.  It has also helped improve safety in the Brewery, an important pillar in our sustainability strategy.

Similarly, the installation of an LED energy efficient lighting system throughout the site was a game changer. This reduced our energy consumption by more than 400,000 KwH, which is the equivalent of fully powering 45 family homes for a year.

Other highlights include volunteering alongside my colleagues to develop urban green spaces and support social enterprise at Down Syndrome Cork’s Field of Dreams. Waving off three of our colleagues as they embarked on a mammoth 854km cycle from our Cork Brewery to the HEINEKEN HQ Brewery in Amsterdam was surprisingly emotional, the guys were so unassuming and truly committed to raising mental health awareness through their chosen charity, Pieta House. I am delighted to say they completed the journey and are on target with their fundraising efforts!

These volunteering days form part of our ‘Growing with our Communities’ programme through which we commit almost €0.5 million in funding to over 50 community and local causes throughout Ireland last year.

In recent months, we focused a little more inward, with particular emphasis on the development of our own Biodiversity Garden outside the brewery in Cork city, enabling us to become business supporters of the All Ireland Pollinator plan in recent weeks. We plan to adopt further nature based solutions to effectively reduce the consequences of climate change, including tree planting.

As we prepare our plans for 2020, we have set ourselves stretching targets. It will be exciting to see  how much further we can go in reaching our goals which will help our business continue to make a positive contribution to the communities in which we operate and the environment around us.  I am looking forward to the journey in the coming year and excited to be a part of a great team and business that is committed to those efforts.