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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

HEINEKEN Vietnam bases its growth on sustainability

By Son Nguyen

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For policymakers, sustainability is a long-term goal, a vision to make the economy more stable and resilient to achieve a more competitive edge in the years to come. For the business community, while many enterprises are mulling or making investment in this cause to adapt themselves to the inevitable trend, many others are eyeing sustainability as a remote choice, or a decorative term only. It is because of the high cost as well as the multiple difficulties associated with the transformation from a linear approach to a circular one.

At HEINEKEN Vietnam, sustainability is the indispensable foundation.

2021 has been a highly-challenging and disruptive year for business in general and the F&B sector in particular due to Covid-19 whose adverse impacts were deeply felt by HEINEKEN Vietnam, which saw its production shrink sharply. Restaurants and bars were shut down and travelling restricted, putting F&B and tourism enterprises under tenterhooks. Still, the giant beer company remained committed to its sustainability and community support goals.

In its 2021 sustainability report that was just released weeks ago, HEINEKEN Vietnam showed how it had been persistent on its inspirational journey to create long-term values for the economy and community by embracing sustainability.

Admitting that Covid-19 set itself back by several years, the company’s leadership said “HEINEKEN Vietnam remains committed to our sustainability agenda of “Brewing a Better Vietnam” – a goal we have been pursuing since our day one in Vietnam 30 years ago.”

“We faced the most severe Covid-19 waves, and social distancing and stringent measures across the country saw life almost at a complete standstill,” noted Alexander Koch, managing director of HEINEKEN Vietnam. Koch stated in the report that HEINEKEN Vietnam’s economic contribution through the value chain last year fell back to 2016-17 levels, accounting for 0.7% of Vietnam’s GDP, compared to 0.94% in 2019.

Still, HEINEKEN Vietnam in 2021 made further progress towards its 2025 ambition of 100% renewable energy, 100% water balanced and zero waste to landfill. Specifically, at the end of last year, the company already achieved zero waste to landfill across its six breweries in Vietnam and are well on track towards the other targets. Its beers are currently brewed with 52% renewable energy which is poised to further increase in the future.

In addition, the company’s sustainability program includes reusing and recycling as a matter of course. To date, up to 98.5% of plastic crates are reused for 5-10 years before recycling, while  97% of beer bottles reused for more than 30 times before recycling.

Its efforts towards sustainability and circularity have been widely recognized. In 2021, HEINEKEN Vietnam was recognized as the second most sustainable company in Vietnam in the manufacturing sector by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which was the sixth consecutive year the company had been honored in the Top 3 of this ranking.

Apart from efforts to achieve sustainability in its own operations, HEINEKEN Vietnam has also sought to lend a helping hand to improve the community’s sanitation and environmental protection elsewhere in the country.

The company has been working with the Consultative Institute for Socio-Economic Development of Rural and Mountainous Areas (CISDOMA) to implement a Water Stream Conservation Project in Quang Nam and Lai Chau provinces. Ongoing since 2019, the project has trained local farmers on domestic circularity and water conservation. To date, 1,260 people have been educated, and water pollution from toxic chemicals and husbandry pollution has reduced by around 5.6 million cubic meters and 2,170 cubic meters respectively. Further, there has been a reduction in the annual amount of domestic waste (1,000 tons) and poisonous pesticides/herbicides containers (3 tons).

As Covid-19 sent the people’s livelihoods into a tailspin, HEINEKEN Vietnam has also rolled up its sleeves to support those affected, first its own workforce and then the general community.

“Caring for people stayed our number one priority during such a disruptive year. This is rooted in our firm belief that we can only thrive if the people around us – our employees, business partners, consumers, and communities, thrive,” said the company’s managing director.

Koch noted that while faced with challenges itself, HEINEKEN Vietnam stood strong with Vietnam in the fight against Covid-19, providing in-kind donations of medical equipment to help treat Covid-19 patients and funding vaccine procurement.

In specifics, HEINEKEN Vietnam donated VND1.9 billion to the national Covid-19 vaccination fund, and VND6.7 billion in cash, medcial supplies and living essentials for Covid-19 relief. The donations included 10 Philips Trilogy EV300 ventilators and 24 Philips Efficia CM120 patient monitors to the HCMC Hospital for Tropical Diseases, and one ventilator to the District 12 Medical Center, Ho Chi Minh City

As 2021 marked the company’s 30th anniversary, HEINEKEN Vietnam has also committed VND30 billion towards restoring Vietnam’s natural environment – through reforestation and the restoration of wetlands.

Koch explained that this wetlands restoration plan will contribute to the company’s ambitious goal of being 100% water balanced by 2025, in line with its own sustainability strategy.

“We believe only by keeping sustainability and responsibility as the compass guiding all our decisions, we will continue to grow together with Vietnam and the Vietnamese people and inspire a better world,” he asserted. “Relentless innovation drives us forward, but our growth is strongly grounded in sustainability.”

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