SMC makes gains in bid to cut water use by 2025
San Miguel Corp. (SMC) is making broad progress in its goal of cutting water use by half in less than a decade, with the country’s largest conglomerate saying its units have already mapped out an interim plan to reduce consumption by 20 percent in three years.
The progress in its water use reduction scheme is part of an ambitious push to integrate sustainability into the conglomerate’s business strategy, and was announced as the diversified group celebrates its 127th anniversary on Saturday.
Investments in technologies have been committed early this year toward the goal of cutting water use by 50 percent by 2025 in its so-called “Water for All” initiative that involves reducing domestic and utility use of water across SMC’s beverage, food, packaging, power, infrastructure and fuels businesses.
Since then, SMC’s businesses have already determined baseline water consumption against which the 2020 target of 20 percent reduction, and 2025 target of 50 percent reduction, will be measured.
Earlier, the conglomerate announced it was exiting the plastic bottled water business to lessen its environmental footprint. It is the first time a business was discontinued to support the company’s sustainability goals.
SMC president Ramon Ang said the two major initiatives are part of a larger push towards sustainability.
He clarified, however, that the discontinuation of the bottled water business will not count as part of the water use reduction efforts.
Ang said the establishment of baseline water consumption figures will boost water reduction measures and encourage a culture of conservation throughout the SMC group.
To meet its targets, the firm directed all its facilities to implement water recycling and rainwater harvesting, to minimize scarce water consumption and use non-scarce sources — rainwater, harvested, “gray” and sea water — over the long term.
Monitoring of water use will also play a key part in the effort. As such, the company has asked all facilities to update its meters and install sub-meters where needed.
“Right now, we’re looking at several ideas for us to meet our 2020 and 2025 goals, and the businesses are given leeway to think of other innovative ways to reduce domestic and utility water consumption,” Ang said. “This includes investment in water use technologies.”
One of these programs includes a zero liquid waste program being considered by power subsidiary SMC Global Power for its new Limay, Bataan and Malita, Davao power plants.
“At the core of this effort is driving accountability into our corporate culture,” Ang said. “Through that, we do not only mean to affect our businesses, but also our individual employees. We want to instill a culture of conservation among everybody.”
Ang also emphasized the role of the company to educate its business partners and its communities regarding water stewardship.
Prior to the unveiling of the water sustainability project, efficient use of water was already part of the operations of SMC’s various units.
Petron Corp.’s recently upgraded Bataan refinery has reduced water consumption through the maximization of a new desalination plant that allows the refinery to use seawater for its facilities. The plant is also installing rainwater catchment systems in depots for various purposes like washing of LPG tanks and trucks.
The refinery likewise uses smart water technology that limits the use of freshwater and groundwater, and reduces wastewater discharge from its operations. Recycling is also a major part of its water management system as a significant amount of water is reverted back to operations.
San Miguel Brewery, which produces flagship San Miguel Pale Pilsen and other beer brands, was able to cut water use by increasing efficiencies in its operations, and recycling of tertiary treated wastewater in non-potable applications.
San Miguel’s breweries in Polo in Valenzuela City, San Fernando in Pampanga, Bacolod City, Mandaue City and Davao are fitted with on-site water treatment facilities.
For its part, Ginebra San Miguel Inc. contributed to water use reduction by fixing leaks.
“Petron, San Miguel Brewery and Ginebra have reported significant gains towards water sustainability,” Ang said. “We’re encouraged by how our employees have responded to this new initiative.”
SMC is set to undertake another water-based venture via the P16-billion Bulacan Bulk Water Supply System, which aims to provide stable water supply to 21 municipalities and three cities in the Bulacan province at the lowest rates per cubic meter anywhere in the country.
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