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ENVIRONMENT | Staff Reporter, China
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GE partners with AB InBev for water and energy efficiency initiatives in China

AB InBev targets to decrease CO2 output and reduce the water-to-beer ratio to 3.5 by 2012.

According to a release, global brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) and energy solutions provider GE announced a strategic alliance to jointly develop innovative manufacturing solutions to drive energy efficiency and water savings in existing and “greenfield” AB InBev facilities across China.

As a resource-efficient global brewer, AB InBev has defined key performance indicators related to energy use, water use and CO2 emissions. With clear 2012 objectives to reduce the water-to-beer ratio to 3.5, reduce energy usage aggressively and decrease CO2 output and reliance on traditional energy sources via the use of biogas and natural gas, AB InBev was seeking a partner with global reach and a dedicated approach to the challenges facing the brewing industry. A centralized food and beverage solutions organization and “Customer Innovation Centers” designed to better serve China’s western, northern, central and southern markets made GE an ideal partner.

“When GE expressed its desire to partner, we agreed without hesitation,” said Ricardo Dias, vice president of procurement for AB InBev APAC. “We are very pleased to engage in this strategic partnership with GE as we continue to strive for more sustainable manufacturing processes. As a brewing industry leader, we will continue to strive to establish a benchmark for energy innovation in the brewing industry and larger food and beverage marketplace.”

GE aims to utilize its resources aligned to the food and beverage industry to support AB InBev to exceed its 2012 objectives. Working together, AB InBev and GE engineering resources will establish an “Innovation Team” to understand AB InBev’s processes and challenges. This insight will enable the team to define clear solutions that can be implemented and piloted in designated AB InBev locations, with successes taken to plants across the AB InBev China landscape.

“We are very pleased to partner with AB InBev, a leader in the beverage industry,” said Jack Wen, vice president of GE and president of GE Energy China. “AB InBev is striving to make its manufacturing processes as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible. GE has advanced technologies that can address the challenges of the food and beverage marketplace. Our alliance with AB InBev will enable us to work together to create solutions that will empower the larger brewing industry to achieve these same objectives.”

With AB InBev’s 2012 goals in mind, this partnership will initially focus on designing and implementing several key solutions, including:

· Energy management solutions that use advanced software systems to provide insight into the level of energy and water used, enabling visibility into potential energy and water losses, while allowing for a better understanding of where improvements can be made.

· Combined heat and power solutions that utilize gas engines will enable several AB InBev pilot sites to create electricity via either biogas or natural gas. With these engines achieving energy efficiency levels of 70 to 90 percent, the utilization of energy is dramatically improved.

· Waste-to-value solutions that will enable efficient use of water and energy normally left over from the manufacturing process.

The AB InBev and GE teams will work together to optimize these solutions and define additional solutions throughout the partnership.

This initiative is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 100,000 tons per year in addition to reducing water and energy consumption. The results also have the potential to resonate throughout the broader industry. As one industry opinion leader stated, “If the pilot project succeeds and the gains can be shared across the larger food and beverage industry, it will move China closer to its goal of establishing a conservation-oriented society and move us closer to achieving the goal of a low-carbon economy.”

This initiative is the next step in a growing tradition of environmental leadership for AB InBev. In April 2010, the company announced its three-year environmental performance targets and its goal to become the world's most environmentally friendly brewer. In just a year-and-a-half, AB InBev has achieved remarkable results through its global experience and active practices in China. In 2010, AB InBev China reduced water consumption by 20.7 percent, carbon emissions by 20 percent and energy consumption by 13.19 percent.

GE’s Customer Innovation Centers are part of GE’s ongoing investment in China. In 2010, the company announced a plan to invest more than $2 billion in R&D, technology and financial service partnerships in China by 2012.

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