Brewing giant, Heineken, is collecting over 100,000 kegs of stale beer, stout and cider, previously left dormant in closed pubs across Ireland during the Covid-19 lockdown, to be repurposed into agricultural fertiliser. Due to the lockdown that came into force on 27 March, Heineken Ireland has committed to collecting broached and full kegs that have passed, or will soon pass their sell-by date.

Heineken Ireland Commercial Director, Sharon Walsh, said the brewery was committed to bearing the cost of the unused alcohol. She said, “this is a large investment for our business at a challenging time for us all, but it will be worth it to ensure that everyone’s first pint back at their local is at the peak quality and freshness consumers expect from Heineken.”

Heineken’s initiative will be a welcome relief for Irish pubs that are struggling with a dramatic loss of its consumer base, compounded by the further financial strains of wasted stock and replenishment. The manufacturer intends to recycle the waste alcohol as an agricultural commodity – in the form of fertiliser.

But why? What’s in it for Heineken?

This novel approach of turning waste alcohol into fertiliser has benefits for a number of stakeholders across society. Establishment owners will welcome this as an opportunity to minimise costs as pubs have been hit hard during the lockdown. Although the pandemic has caused consumers to have relatively less spending power, times of austerity such as the 2008 recession are opportunities for premium brands to reposition themselves as a “treat.” As an integral part of Irish culture, pubs will entice patrons to step in for a fresh pint and seize the recovery period as a chance to re-establish itself in the community.

Heineken has a history of innovation and corporate responsibility. In fact, Heineken devoted 36 pages of its last 175-page Annual Report (2019) just to its Sustainability Review. With its implementation of the Cool Farm Tool, an analytics tool that aims to calculate CO2 emissions at farm level, improvements can be made to farming practices that refine the “sustainable agriculture approach.” In turn, this will contribute towards the company’s 2020 objective to extract at least half of its main raw materials from sustainable sources.

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