Our approach

Our approach to water covers three factors:

  • Water efficiency: using less water in our operations
  • Water stewardship: balancing the consumed volume of water that we do use
  • Water circularity: ensuring that the water that we do use is treated to be safely returned to the environment.

In 2020, we renewed our focus on water saving, investing time and money on ensuring our performance is world class. As part of the HEINEKEN network of operating companies, we have implemented an extensive list of best practices. We receive a benchmark of our performance compared to the top-performing breweries in the business, ensuring our targets push us to achieve the best outcomes possible in sustainability.

Our progress

Significant wins we made in 2020 include taking an objective look at our plant cleaning schedule and methods and aligning these with HEINEKEN and food safety standards. This resulted in shorter cleaning cycles across the brewery, and more intelligently scheduled cleaning cycles for other equipment. We also increased the amount of hot water recovered and installed flowmeters to improve how we measure water use in different parts of our plants.

We also put a particular focus on maintenance to save water and energy during our winter plant maintenance shutdown, the results of which became apparent with some of our best results to date during the latter half of 2020 following improvements we rolled out during this period. Our DB Draught brewery achieved HEINEKEN benchmark performance, dropping water consumption to 2.8hl/hl. For the second year in a row, we partnered with Callaghan Innovation to sponsor a summer STEM student on a project at our Waitemata plant, adding a fresh set of eyes to our energy saving and efficiency measures to enhance performance.

Planning for our wastewater treatment plant in Timaru has continued, however due to the ongoing effects of COVID-19, we have unfortunately had to delay the commissioning of the plant until 2022. While we are currently compliant with the local regulations, we have had several small breaches of our wastewater consent due to excessive chemical oxygen demand (COD) and non-compliant pH, however we are actively working to address this. Due to the dilution of our wastewater with other sources, including domestic output at the Timaru District Council processing facilities, no wastewater is discharged into the environment at elevated levels. The main factor contributing to our lower performance in this area is to do with capturing yeast after the brewing of newer craft beer styles, including hazy type brews which are not filtered to the same extent. To combat this, we have repurposed a centrifuge from our Tuatara Brewery, which should allow better capture of yeast and other contaminants before it reaches our wastewater.

When our new wastewater treatment plant is commissioned, we will be able to treat our wastewater on-site to the standards set by HEINEKEN, which requires wastewater to be treated to the World Bank standard of 250g/m3, well in excess of what is required by NZ law. Having our COD this low will also help to dilute the output of others in the area, having a significant benefit to the local environment.

2021 marks the start of our water balancing program at DB. By 2030, we aim to have 100% of the water used in our production processes returned to our watershed, ensuring we have no negative effects on our local water catchments. This means finding ways to help our source water catchments gain back the same volume of water that we put into our products. By the time of publication of this report we will have announced a major new partnership to help us achieve this goal.

Our key targets and performance

Our performance is measured based on the amount of water we consume per hectolitre (100 litres) of beer and cider produced. Our overall performance for 2020 was 3.28hl/hl, which was a significant drop in consumption compared to 2019. However, we were still short of our benchmark target of 3.0hl/hl.

The quality of the water we are discharging is measured, by the metric Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD). Our wastewater quality has dropped over the last 12 months, due to the more complex mix of beer styles we are producing. We hope to remedy this with the installation of the centrifuge at our DB Draught brewery in early 2021.


Key measures 2021 target 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015
Water consumption (hl / hl) 2.90 3.28 3.45 3.18 3.2 3.3 3.47
Water discharge (COD kg / hl to surface water) 5.000 5.890 4.870 5.516 5.194 5.236 7.028

* Our water reporting data includes our three main production sites: Waitemata Brewery in Auckland, DB Draught Brewery in Timaru and Redwood Cidery in Nelson.