Beer Giant Carlsberg Pledges to Reach Net Zero Across Value Chain by 2040

The European beer giant Carlsberg Group has pledged to reach net zero emissions across its value chain by 2040, the group said in a press release.

On August 17, the group, which produces Carlsberg and several other beer brands like Tuborg, Somersby cider and Kronenbourg and distributes Brooklyn Brewery products in Europe, released its Together Towards ZERO and Beyond program, which updates its environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals, stepping up previously existing ones and adding new targets across categories like its farming footprint, packaging waste and water use.

The new program includes a detailed roadmap for the group to reach net zero by 2040, as the group says, “from barley in the fields to beer in hand.”

“We want to enable consumers to enjoy a great beer while leaving the smallest carbon footprint possible,” CEO Cees ‘t Hart said in the press release.

He said this entailed reducing the carbon footprint of its value chain “from the grain and water that we brew with, to the recycling of empty bottles and cans once you’ve enjoyed your beer.”

This means the group will seek to reach net zero across its Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions.

Scope 1 emissions are those generated by assets owned by an organization, like its breweries. Scope 2 emissions are created indirectly, for example, by the power plant it buys electricity from. Scope 3 emissions are those generated in its supply chain, packaging and use and consumption of its products—in Carlsberg’s case, anything from growing and malting the raw materials it purchases to manufacturing glass bottles and printing labels, to distribution, i.e. delivering beers to its customers at home, in restaurants, bars or other venues.

According to the group, more than 65% of its total Scope 3 emissions come from agriculture, raw materials processing and packaging. In particular, packaging alone accounts for 41% of Carlsberg’s total emissions.

The program includes a roadmap with several short-term milestones to get to net zero by 2040.

The group aims to reach zero carbon emissions across its breweries by 2030, phasing out coal in its two remaining facilities that still use it as fuel and powering all its breweries with renewable energy.

To achieve its new emissions targets, Carlsberg said it would focus on six actions. These are:


  • Converting boilers from natural gas to renewable thermal fuels or electrification.
  • Securing a supply of renewable energy through Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). A PPA is a deal whereby a company invests in new renewable energy projects by buying the power in advance, thus securing demand for the utility or green energy company.
  • Encouraging regenerative agricultural practices among suppliers.
  • Decarbonizing its packaging systems. This includes ambitions to recycle 90% of Carlsberg’s bottles and cans and reduce the use of new plastics by 50%.
  • Using electric vehicles for short-distance transport.
  • Improving the efficiency of the group’s cooling systems.

Some of the targets will be easier to achieve than others: According to Carlsberg, 87% of its value chain carbon footprint is outside of its operations and direct control, meaning those emissions mostly rest with the executives of its suppliers and distributors.

For example, the group does not grow barley itself but buys it on the market, meaning that it has only indirect influence over how the plant is farmed.

In its latest Sustainability Report, published in 2021 and covering the previous year, Carlsberg did not mention purchasing carbon credits on its road to net zero.

The new program was an update to the Carlsberg Group’s previous program, Together Towards ZERO (TTZ), which the company said helped it reduce carbon emissions by 40% and water use per hectolitre of beer by 21% from a 2015 baseline.

The new program also features goals in several other areas of focus alongside environmental goals, including equity and inclusion, responsible drinking and human rights.

“We have expanded the program to include a wider array of ESG topics and to address the societal challenges impacting people and communities where we operate,” Hart, the CEO, said in the press release.

The new net zero pledge means that Carlsberg joined several other brewers with net zero pledges. Heineken, for example, announced plans to reduce its scope 1 and 2 emissions by 90% by 2030 and to bring its Scope 3 emissions to zero by 2040.

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