Case study: Water management

“Studies allow us to gain better insight into biodiversity and also to prioritise our waste-water management.”

Pjotr van Oeveren  Safety & Environment Manager,
Heineken International,  the Netherlands

Mapping the biodiversity impacts of our operations around the world

As a business that takes its environmental responsibilities seriously, Heineken benchmarks its environmental performance by using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines. In 2006, we took action to bring our reporting processes into line with two key GRI performance indicators concerning biodiversity. These required us to report the number and scale of Heineken operating sites situated inside or adjacent to protected areas and unprotected areas of high diversity value – and to define our most significant biodiversity impacts.

In 2007, we commissioned a study at Leiden University – focusing on our own production sites and selecting water management as a key parameter. Using a range of analytical tools, including the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA), the study established the precise locations of our 154 production sites and matched them to protected areas listed by WDPA.

Advanced software was used to combine these two pieces of information, producing a definitive map of our sites relative to WDPA areas. Because water management is Heineken’s primary biodiversity impact, the map was refined to plot all sites inside or up to 50km from a recognised Ramsar wetland area.

This exercise produced a definitive list of 108 sites located in or near WDPA areas. Of these, 14 did not have a waste-water treatment plant. The study has allowed us to match both GRI indicators concerning biodiversity and also to prioritise our waste-water management programme. We are now conducting detailed feasibility studies into the construction of water treatment plants at all 14 highlighted production sites.