Dopper's Deep Dives: Q&A Jan-Willem Vosmeer, Heineken

July 5, 2020

On May 20th Dopper invited three sustainability experts to take the virtual stage. During the first session of our brand new digital talk series Dopper Deep Dives, they shared their view on a circular society as an answer to mending the post-Corona planet. Needless to say, it was awesome.

Kicking things off was Jan-Willem Vosmeer, Global Manager Corporate Social Responsibility at Heineken, with an eye-opening presentation that led to a slightly overwhelming amount of questions from the attendees. Since there were too many to answer on the spot, we handpicked a selection and asked Jan-Willem afterwards.

Read them below.

PS Missed the talk and now wish you didn’t? Don’t worry. You can watch the recording here.

Liesbeth: There is no waste, there is just material that you cannot use yourself. How do you see this statement?

Hi Liesbeth, I totally agree. The challenge is to turn waste into value and reuse it for other purposes. By others OR by yourself again. For example, we reuse part of our treated wastewater as a source of biogas in our breweries. The higher in the ‘waste hierarchy’ the better, as long as it doesn’t end up in landfills.

Mizzy: Is there a specific reason that Heineken is not actively communicating these great achievements in recycling to the customer?

Hi Mizzy, great question. Our brands are taking up the sustainability topics that suit the DNA of the brand. So for example for the Heineken Brand ‘responsible consumption’ is the key topic and the ambition is to make moderate consumption – or in some case no consumption at all! – cool and aspirational. Think about the ‘When You Drive, Never Drink’ campaign.

Other brands take up different topics. E.g. for our Mexican Sol brand the sun is in the heart and soul, so it makes perfect sense to connect the brand with solar energy. I expect that more of our brands will start communicating about our sustainability efforts, as long as it naturally fits and is welcomed as ‘authentic’ by our consumers.

Iris Budie: Some wastewater processes also allow for the generation of energy through anaerobic processes, have you considered this or are you using these types of treatments too?

Hi Iris, yes absolutely. We are using this in many of our breweries. Wastewater from the brewery is first treated under anaerobic conditions using bacteria to break down the organic matter into biogas. Biogas can be collected and used as a renewable energy source. The remaining effluent is then treated using aerobic bacteria before being returned to surface water.

Eliene: What are the changes you have seen in the field of CSR within Heineken and in general over thepast years?

To name a few:

Laura: You mentioned zero waste means you send less than 2% to landfill. Will actual 0% waste never be feasible?

Good question. That is indeed preferable, but challenging at the same time. Even when you have the most efficient system in place, some materials are inevitably sent to landfill at some point downstream of the waste treatment. For example, energy recovery will lead to the production of residual waste in the form of ash. But the ambition should always be to look for solutions that – in the end - leads to zero waste to landfill.

Not a question, but nice feedback from the chat:

The annual sustainability report from Heineken is so detailed and a great benchmark for other brands. very impressive.

Thank you!

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