We can’t deny that the ecosystem of our earth is out of balance today. If everyone lives as we do in the West, then eventually we will need more than one planet. That is why we limit our ecological footprint as much as possible. All electricity we buy for the brewery is 100% green, from renewable sources. And that is not the only measure we've taken.
When we think of sustainability, we often only think of environmental sustainability or the use of natural ingredients. When using such ingredients we must, indeed, make sure that they are not exhausted. However, we should not ignore economic sustainability, where the growth of competitiveness – almost literally – is soundly combined with respect for people and nature. With every investment or technological change, we examine whether, and how, we can keep negative impacts on people, the environment and our surroundings to a minimum.
Research and Development is a major pillar. Our R&D regularly leads to the development and use of prototypes and applications with a demonstrable, positive impact on the environment.
Quality control and the use of the Best Available Techniques (BAT) are also high on the company radar. Duvel Moortgat signed the ‘Food Industry Companies Environmental Charter’ back in 1999. This commits us to a proactive environmental policy.
About 1.4 million Duvel crates are in circulation around the world, and a total of around 2.2 million for all our beers. The environmentally friendly crates are made of recycled polyethylene. This substance does not contain any harmful heavy metals.
We use multifunctional, reusable packaging such as crates, glasses, bottles and barrels. These are cleaned and reused several times for different beers. We can use the crates for various types of packaging: loose bottles, clips or packs. A good 99% of the products we sell in the Benelux are in reusable packaging.
All electricity we buy for the brewery is 100% green, from renewable sources. But we also have our own 12,500 m² solar panels installed on the roof of the brewing room and the ageing areas. With a capacity of 600 kW, they are able to generate 600 megawatt-hours/year. This is comparable to the average energy consumption of 150 families. All the electrical energy we generate via the solar panels is used in the brewery.
Good energy management counts. Internal recovery processes are important. We heat our company buildings and warehouses using the warmth produced by fermentation. This is one example of a closed circuit with which we prevent emission and waste flows.
A closed circuit like this is also used to warm our cellars where the second fermentation occurs with heat that we collect from... the cooling system in our huge ageing rooms. We also use steam condensation in the brewing room to heat the following brew to almost boiling point.
We use these where possible. With a frequency control, the production volume can be adjusted by adapting the engine speed. This saves a significant amount of energy, particularly when pumping.
We will soon be using the methane gas produced when the organic material in our wastewater is broken down as fuel for steam generators. This means that we reuse about 11% of all thermal energy on an annual basis in the Puurs brewery (ca. 3,500 MWh). We also ensure all sorts of heat exchanges. As a result, for instance, the thermal load in the brewing room is extremely low.
We constantly strive to avoid wasting water, among other things by keeping the water consumption per litre of beer produced as low as possible. The aim is always to reuse treated water to cool and rinse.
We have been treating the water from our production process for over twenty years now. A water treatment plant was built in Puurs in 1993. This was continually being modernised. In 2017 a brand-new plant with was built and started up in the summer of 2017.
In a separate system, we treat our wastewater until it is well below the stringent standards imposed by the Vlarem, the Flemish regulations on environmental permits, before discharging it into the surface water. We treat the water in a combined anaerobic/aerobic system. The tiny quantity of sludge that forms is used in agriculture to improve the soil.