Without great water we cannot make great beer!

A commitment to good water stewardship and ensuring water as a sustainable resource is part of Molson Coors’ heritage and future. The quality of our beer is directly tied to the quality of the water we use to produce it, and the sustainability of our business depends on a secure supply of high quality water. For this reason, protecting the water resources in our communities is a central part of Our Beer Print. Water is a key ingredient in our products and we are committed to protecting the watersheds we source our water from.

Our Performance

We measure our performance on water on the intensity of water used per unit of beer produced.

  • In 2016 we set ourselves an internal target of 4.33 hectolitres of water per hectolitre of beer produced
  • In 2016 we achieved a water use ratio of 4.42 hl/hl.
  • Performance across our breweries continues to progress towards our 2020 targets through increased utilization of our Dollar$ense utility management system which is driving increased focus and awareness of continued process improvements.
  • In addition to Dollar$ense, we continue to reduce water usage through strategic investments in more efficient systems and technology in our breweries such as a new pasteurizer in St. John’s and a closed loop cooling water system in Vancouver.  These investments along saved nearly 500,000 hl of water last year.  

Water Use Trends and Breakdown by Region (khl) 2016

Molson Coors Water Use (khl)

2013 2014 2015 2016 
Supply - Municipal (khl) 63,939 60,003 57,548 57,549 
Supply - Ground (khl) 69,993 66,620 67,057 66,297 
Supply - Brackish (khl) - - -  -
Supply - Surface (khl) 9,353 9,684 9,280 9,225 
Supply - Rain Water Harvested (khl) - - -
Total Water Usage   143,285  136,307  133,885  133,071 
Supply - Water Returned to Source (khl) 456 448 359 359 
Hl of water used per Hl of beer produced 4.64 4.49 4.44 4.42 


Breakdown by Region (khl) 2016

Supply - Municipal (khl) 57,549 16,409 41,140 -
Supply - Ground (khl) 66,297 64,424 140 1,733
Supply - Brackish (khl) - - - -
Supply - Surface (khl) 9,225 9,225
- -
Total Water Usage  133,071  90,058  41,280  1,733 
Supply - Water Returned to Source (khl) 359
- -
Supply - Rain Water Harvested (khl) 
- - - -


Significant Investments - MillerCoors Water Use (khl)

2013 2014 2015 2016 
Supply - Municipal (khl) 45,696 43,828 40,313 35,161 
Supply - Ground (khl) 51,810 49,977 48,501 47,024 
Supply - Brackish (khl) - - -
Supply - Surface (khl) 97,365 91,145 90,038 89,369 
Total Water Usage  195,144  184,950  178,852  171,554 
Supply - Water Returned to Source (khl) 74,488 78,204 80,630 -
Supply - Rain Water Harvested (khl)
- - 11,633

The 2016 absolute data in Water Use has been independently reviewed in accordance with ISAE 3000, see our Assurance Statement for more details. 


Water is a major part of both our products and our processes. Understanding water and managing it in a holistic way is critical to our business.  In setting our 2020 water targets, we have taken a risk based approach to ensure that we are focusing on the right elements of water for our business and the watersheds in which we operate. Each of our breweries undertakes detailed watershed risk assessment and also completes our water risk index. This approach has allowed us to set targets that focus resources to drive the right behavior on water, reducing risk across the enterprise. Our 2020 water targets guide us in how we will increase the water use efficiency of our breweries.

Our 2020 ambitions are to:

  • Reduce water intensity by 15% in all brewery operations (2011 baseline).
  • Achieve world-class water efficiency in breweries exposed to a risk to the security of supply (3-3.5hl/hl).

In addition to increasing water use efficiency, we also focus on waste water treatment. The cornerstone of our 2020 Sustainability Strategy is a commitment to invest in anaerobic waste water treatment and generate clean energy from this waste stream. This technology allows us to treat our waste water to a high quality and generate biogas that can be used to produce heat or electricity needed in our breweries. More information can be found on our case study here.

Water is a local issue. Each of our breweries is in a unique water situation based on location.  Across our network we have sites that are supplied by municipal water sources while others source from surface or ground water. We have a number of breweries that have their own waste water treatment and others that utilize municipal treatment works. This variety means we need a flexible system to monitor and respond to changes in water risk and impact over the short and long term. 

We invest significantly in capturing the best data on each of the watersheds we operate in, to understand our risks, impacts and opportunities. We have developed our own Water Risk Index to consolidate water risk information for each brewery. This tool takes a detailed look at water use, costs, sourcing, supply, regulation and governance, allowing us to identify and address potential concerns and where best to invest in mitigation efforts. To management our water availability we:

  • Improve water efficiency within our plant with the objective of mitigating risk exposure and keeping pace with best practice.
  • Managing the supply to ensure we are responsive to constraints and have alternatives.
  • Engaging with local and regional stakeholders to ensure sustainable use of the watershed by all.

We actively look for ways to engage with our supply chain partners around water. For Molson Coors, long term water availability, and the potential of climate change trends are key factors that we consider.  We have work underway to understand our long term supply chain structure, especially in relation to supply of agricultural products. We engage our partners with our Standards for Suppliers which extend our corporate responsibility practices to our complex supply chain, challenging our suppliers to set similar commitments to reduce their impact on environmental issues including water.

We continue to work to further embed sustainability in to the way we procure goods and services through our sustainable procurement program.

A great example of how we are actively engaging our partners is our Molson Coors Growers Group:

In the UK we have direct links to our barley growers. We have worked with LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) to develop the LEAF Water Management Tool to enable any LEAF partner to develop their own water management techniques. Following feedback from our growers we simplified this approach to create ‘Simply Sustainable Water’ brochure which is freely available to all our growers group as other barley growers.

We believe that working with others on water stewardship is critical. Not only does it allow us to gain a greater understanding of water in the communities we operate in, it also helps us to find solutions that ultimately help us meet our own goals. We work with others in a number of ways. We reach out to the communities who share our watersheds. Where we have identified higher risk sites we have a more formal outreach in place. In a number of our breweries we have been instrumental in creating community forums to protect local watersheds, some of which have been active for many years.

  • In Canada, we are seeing more opportunities to work with others in our watersheds towards common goals; an example of this is the Toronto Water Leaders Forum. As part of Partners in Project Green, the forum aims to bring all relevant stakeholders together to discuss urban watershed management.
  • Our Patna Brewery in India is located in an area where not all members of the community have access to adequate clean water and sanitation. Over the past two years we have worked with Water for People in 11 communities and 2 schools providing or improving water infrastructure and education to increase the sustainability of these projects in the communities. 1,278 people gained access to improved drinking water facilities including 353 school aged children.
  • Our Cobra brands charitable foundation which provides health, education and community support in South Asia entered into a partnership with WaterAid and BELU. 100% of profits of specially designed bottled water sold will be donated to Water Aid.
  • The Clear Creek Watershed Foundation (CCWF) in Colorado, USA has been active since 1997. The Clear Creek Watershed feeds our Golden brewery, we were a founding members recognizing how collective action on water quality would both reduce risk and cost for us and improve the whole watershed, where this iconic Coors brewery is located.

Molson Coors is an active member of the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER), a partnership of leading global beverage companies working together to advance the standing of the beverage industry in the realm of environmental stewardship.  An example of the collective work on water from BEIR is the True Cost of Water Tool that helps breweries to develop a clearer view of the cost associated with the water they use in terms of actual prices, energy and other inputs and water treatment costs. Data generated can support better payback models and so investment decision models.

Each brewery is in a unique water situation based on location, local government and national government structure. Some of the breweries are served from municipal sources while others are on well or direct-flow sources.  Molson Coors tracks regulatory risks at each brewery, based on local trends.

Our heritage and position on water sustainability has enabled us to have a ‘voice at the table’ of policy consultation and related activity. At a global level we are actively engaged in the conversation on how to manage water risk, though the CEO Water Mandate, where we also sit on the Steering Committee, BIER and industry bodies. This work and our network of water experts means we are able to see the trends, and estimate how this may turn in to regulation and on what time scale. Much of the work we do on reducing our water risk is ahead of regulation. Our view is that we should act now to reduce our risks, mitigate cost increases, retain the right to operate in our communities and because we believe it is the right thing to do.

Our strategy is governed by the global water management team, responsible for the company's water supply, management and sustainability. In addition, each brewery has dedicated employees responsible for water and environmental sustainability.

Water reduction targets are included in the Chief Supply Chain Officer's performance plan and are also tied to employee incentives.

We are able to robustly track water use in each brewery by process and account for production ratios.

We share our approach to water with our stakeholders through transparent reporting on our website. Our online Our Beer Print Report discusses our water stewardship practices and current performance. We reported on water and climate risk in our 2015 Annual Report on Form 10-K.

We are signatories of the UN CEO Water Mandate. You can see our annual Communication on Progress here.

Molson Coors is a signatory of the UN Global Compact and in September 2008 signed the CEO Water Mandate. Progress on global commitments is reported through annual Corporate Responsibility reports and our Communication on Progress.

Molson Coors was the inaugural lead sponsor for Carbon Disclosure Project’s Water Disclosure because we believe that disclosure of water-related data from the world’s largest companies informs the global market place on investment risk and commercial opportunity. Although no longer a sponsor of Carbon Disclosure Project’s Water Disclosure, we voluntarily report our water data in our own reporting and sit on the Steering Committee of the United Nation’s CEO Water Mandate. In this role we support the Mandate’s mission to make a positive impact on the global water challenges by sharing and advancing sustainable water solutions in partnership with a diverse stakeholder group that includes the United Nations, civil society, governments and businesses.

Molson Coors also supports the Mandate’s Mission statement that "Endorsers of The CEO Water Mandate recognize that through individual and collective action they can contribute to the vision of the UN Global Compact and the realization of the Millennium Development Goals."

In July 2009, Molson Coors announced a strategic collaboration with Circle of Blue in support of our mutual and long-term commitment to protecting global fresh water supplies. Circle of Blue is an international network of leading journalists, scientists and communicators focused on global water issues.

The collaboration's first initiative was to launch an independent survey of public awareness and concern for fresh water issues in 25 countries around the world, with a deeper evaluation of attitudes about fresh water conservation in a smaller subset of seven countries.

The global survey results were announced at World Water Week in Stockholm, September 18 2009 and are presented in the report "Human Perspectives on the Global Water Crisis”.