This case study from the World Business Council on Sustainable Development shows how the global brewer and beverage-maker has been able to set ambitious targets and achieve significant results on improving its environmental performance while boosting its triple bottom line.

A global brewer and beverage manufacturer, Heineken views sustainability as a key element of normal business processes. Because beer is a natural product, the company's efforts in this area initially focused on environmental impacts -- water consumption, energy consumption and waste. In consultation with stakeholders, Heineken broadened its agenda to incorporate health and safety issues, followed by a responsibility management program which addressed topics such as responsible alcohol consumption and integrity, including corruption and policies concerning acceptance of business gifts. In 2006, the company redefined its sustainability agenda, concentrating on those areas where it could have the greatest impact.

Responsibility for the sustainability program reaches the highest levels of the corporate structure at Heineken -- a reflection of its importance within the company. The CEO is responsible for the company's corporate responsibility strategy, while a corporate social responsibility advisory board composed of concerned top management supports the effort by monitoring the coherence and consistency of related policies and practices.

While Heineken's general objective is to maximize its positive impacts and minimize its negative impacts on society, the company has established clearly defined targets for its sustainability program. They are a mix of quantitative goals for key indicators and measurable actions to be accomplished. Progress against these goals is monitored through an internal reporting structure and other review processes.

With sustainability embedded into its core values, Heineken is able to extend its principles and policies throughout the value chain. Group suppliers must adhere to the Heineken Supplier Code, while the group supply chain function monitors progress against targets for operating companies and conducts audits onsite to provide an in-depth assessment of progress and specific recommendations for further improvement.

The Business Case

Because beer is made from natural ingredients -- brewing requires raw materials, including malted barley (and sometimes other cereals and hops), water and yeast -- sustainability is a "natural" fit for Heineken. By integrating sustainability into overall business processes and transferring issue ownership to relevant functional disciplines throughout the organization, Heineken has been able to set ambitious targets and achieve concrete results. Assurance efforts from KPMG have helped the company improve its internal systems and processes during recent years with respect to sustainability issues and helped managers stay serious about performance improvement.

A global brewer and beverage manufacturer, Heineken views sustainability as a key element of normal business processes. Because beer is a natural product, the company's efforts in this area initially focused on environmental impacts -- water consumption, energy consumption and waste.

In consultation with stakeholders, Heineken broadened its agenda to incorporate health and safety issues, followed by a responsibility management program which addressed topics such as responsible alcohol consumption and integrity, including corruption and policies concerning acceptance of business gifts. In 2006, the company redefined its sustainability agenda, concentrating on those areas where it could have the greatest impact.

Responsibility for the sustainability program reaches the highest levels of the corporate structure at Heineken -- a reflection of its importance within the company. The CEO is responsible for the company's corporate responsibility strategy, while a corporate social responsibility advisory board composed of concerned top management supports the effort by monitoring the coherence and consistency of related policies and practices.