Trials could shrink water footprint of beer

Image: Josh Olade on Unsplash

A UK technology company is taking part in a six-month programme led by brewer AB InBev, which aims to lower the water footprint not only in beer production, but all kinds of consumer goods.

Kicking off at the Stella Artois brewery in Leuven, Belgium, the 100+ Accelerator involves some of largest food & beverage and consumer goods manufacturers in the world, including Unilever and Colgate-Palmolive. For Evove, which has developed a range of products that enhance the performance of the filtration and separation membranes used to process liquids, the programme will culminate in pilots projects with The Coca-Cola Company and AB InBev, which also boasts brands like Budweiser and Corona.

Food systems account for 72% of water used worldwide and an estimated 18 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent or 34% of the global total, according to UN figures from 2015. This makes producing food and drinks with a lower carbon and water footprint essential.

“Improving the supply efficiency of the food and beverage sector has widespread implications for humanity.”

Chris Wyres, Evove

“The swift deployment of innovation can have a profound impact on the sustainable provision of some of our most basic needs,” said Evove’s chief marketing officer Andrew Walker. “Our advanced membrane systems help food and beverage producers become more circular, ultimately using fewer resources and having a positive impact on the communities they are part of.“

The company’s technologies harness graphene-oxide based coatings and a variety of 3D-printed enhancements to boost the performance of conventional membranes, including reducing energy by up to 80% and doubling the produce yield from raw feeds of milk, beer, juice and sugar. Recycling 80% more of the process waters discharged is a big step toward zero-liquid discharge from industrial processes, the company says, and will help in progressing localised water stewardship around the world.

AB InBev said that after rigorously vetting over 1,700 submissions, 46 sustainability-focused startups were selected as the latest participants in the award-winning 100+ Accelerator, the programmes largest cohort since launching in 2018. The purpose is to help make progress on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, and AB InBev’s goals to advance water stewardship, smart agriculture, circular packaging and climate action.

The six-month 100+ Accelerator programme began on 7 November 2022, and for Evove and the company's partners, the aim is to prove and optimise the enhanced membrane systems under real operating conditions, preceding a rollout across global operations.

Erik Novaes, vice president of procurement & sustainability for AB InBev said, “With the 100+ Accelerator, our innovation reach is much further. The rigorous selection process means that we build a strong engagement with the best and most relevant innovations for our businesses.

“The high success rate of our previous cohort members has had a strong impact and the 100+ Accelerator is one of the most important engines for sustainability in our company.”

Chris Wyres, chief executive of Evove said, “Improving the supply efficiency of the food and beverage sector has widespread implications for humanity. Our technologies are key enablers for reducing water and energy consumption in this sector.”