Our approach

Our procurement team continues to work hard on maintaining local sourcing of raw goods despite pressure from global suppliers. The shipping delays and insecurity across the supply chain of raw materials proved the need for this; and we were able to support vendors and customers throughout times of rapidly increasing and decreasing demand. Our procurement team continues to lead the HEINEKEN world, with 100% of our suppliers signing up to the HEINEKEN Supplier Code of Conduct. The Code ensures we are supporting suppliers with aligned values, and covers our expectations in three main areas:

  • Integrity and business conduct (legal compliance, conflicts of interest, confidentiality)
  • Human rights (safe work practices, fair treatment, equal opportunity, no child or forced labour, and values associated with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Core Conventions of the International Labour Organisation)
  • Environment (resource efficiency, reducing environmental impact and the use of environmentally friendly technologies)

In 2020, the code was updated to include a stance on Human Rights, in line with work we are doing globally around ensuring human rights are respected in our business, and our stance on worker exploitation.

Our progress

Action on plastics

In 2020, we set up a new cross-functional workstream with the specific intent of cutting plastics from our value chain. We set an ambitious target to halve our 2019 plastics footprint of 311 tonnes by the end of 2023. We also have a further target of ensuring all packaging and point of sale materials are reusable, recyclable, or compostable by end of 2025.

We started a project to attempt to remove the plastic shrouds on the pallets of empty glass bottles and cans coming into our Waitemata brewery from our local Auckland supplier. We ran a trial, however unfortunately the quantity of bottles and cans lost en route was prohibitively high for this to be implemented. Our compliance with MPI standards for primary packaging materials also meant that we couldn't further explore this initiative.

Old Mout cider is our only product to come in single-use plastic packaging. Investigation carried out throughout 2020 into alternative packaging such as glass or paper bottles did not find any viable solutions, due to constraints around cost and structural integrity. We are now working with our suppliers to create a plastic bottle made from recycled PET that is manufactured in New Zealand. We’ve completed several trials, and we are determined to implement a solution that can withstand our required carbonation levels and meets visual standards.

We hosted two Callaghan Innovation students at our Waitemata brewery, with the aim of better understand plastics entering our sites from our suppliers and design innovative solutions to reduce plastic use and increase circularity. Part of this project included redesigning the caps we use for kegs. A new cap has now been designed which reduces material usage, is recyclable using council recycling programs, and contains recycled plastic content. We are working with a local supplier to finalise the design and expect to implement these in 2021.

Towards the end of 2020 we worked with our suppliers to reduce the thickness of plastic labels on our Heineken and DB Export family of beers by approximately 20%. This change avoided over 400kg of plastic and will save over 5300kg of plastic in 2021.

Our logistics team has worked hard to reduce the handling of our exported products. By mapping the distribution process from our production line into the customer’s hands, we have been able to streamline and eliminate some steps, reducing the use of plastic stretch wrap whilst still allowing for products to be shipped efficiently, safely, and with minimal wastage. We ran a successful trial of slipsheets to replace pallets for these products, meaning we can maximise load in a container without restacking and rewrapping product. This plastic-saving initiative will be rolled out towards the end of 2021 and is expected to save more than 2.9 tonnes of plastic annually.

As part of our internal program to enable staff to reduce their own carbon footprints, we ran a month dedicated to reducing waste. We shared a guide to plastic recycling and staff shared their own personal tips on how they reduce plastic use at home. We took a trip to the Hampton Downs EnviroWaste site where we toured their landfill and recycling facilities to better understand how we could improve our waste flow. We created bokashi compost bins from plastic buckets that some of our raw materials come in, followed by a compost workshop to learn about how to use them and showcase other simple ways our staff could reduce their waste footprint.

We removed all single-use cutlery and cups from our Waitemata head office and brewery, replacing them with reusable alternatives. While these items were predominately commercially compostable through our waste vendors, eliminating them has reduced our waste and prevented bin contamination, a common issue with this style of cup and cutlery.

Product stewardship and packaging

Our packaging team greatly reduced the carbon emissions from some of our product packaging by moving the labels from metalised to plain paper. This saved approximately 1430kg of CO2 on products made for Aldi alone, and we hope to roll it out to all products following the success of this initiative.

We continue to be a member of the Packaging Forum, Public Place Recycling Scheme and Glass Packaging Forum, the latter of which achieved a recovery rate of 73% in 2019, ensuring NZ has a sustainable and effective way of recycling glass.

Key targets and performance

In 2019, 100% of our suppliers signed up to our Supplier Code of Conduct, making DB the first HEINEKEN operating company to meet this significant milestone.

Key measures 2021 target 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
Number of suppliers n/a 752 1,148 1,321 1,535 1,327 1,663
% local (NZ) suppliers by spend 96% 97% 96% 96% 96% 90% 87%
% suppliers signed up to Supplier Code 100% 100% 100% 99% 98% 100% 100%

Case Study: 90% recycled content flint bottle


In 2019, DB Breweries and O-I Glass produced a 90% recycled content flint beer bottle using high-quality recycled glass (cullet) collected during the previous summer. Flint bottles produced in New Zealand typically contain around 45% recycled content. This is in part due to the availability of high-quality cullet, but also in-specification colour requirements for premium, consumer-facing flint glass bottles.

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