AB InBev Wants Startups To Help Reach Its Sustainability Goals By 2025

The world’s largest brewer has set new sustainability goals to reach by 2025, and hopes to use a startup accelerator to do it.

AB InBev Wants Startups To Help Reach Its Sustainability Goals By 2025
[Photo: Carl Attard/Pexels]

Today, AB InBev has announced a list of sustainability goals it aims to reach by 2025 that revolve around four different categories: smart agriculture, water stewardship, packaging, and climate. So by 2025, the global brewing company wants 100% of its direct farmers to be skilled, connected, and financially empowered, 100% of its communities in high-stress areas to have measurably improved water availability and quality, for all its products to be in packaging that is returnable or made from primarily recycled content, all its electricity from renewable sources, and to reduce CO2 emissions across its supply chain by 25%.


To help it achieve these goals, AB InBev is also launching the “100+ Sustainability Accelerator” to enlist scientists, technologists, startups, and entrepreneurs from around the world to help build and scale solutions. AB InBev’s chief sustainability and procurement officer Tony Milikin says that although the company’s been active in sustainability since 2010, they’re now getting more aggressive on providing leadership that befits the world’s largest brewer, home to Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois.

[Image: courtesy of AB InDev]
“The accelerator comes from us recognizing there’s no way we can do all this by ourselves,” says Milikin. “Our goal is for these companies to not only help us but the rest of the world, whether it’s other companies like ours or in other industries. A company solving water problems, green logistics, or packaging technology and design can help a lot of other industries as well.”

The accelerator, which will be run by the brewer’s growth and innovation group ZX Ventures, includes boot camps in nine markets across North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa, followed by a 10-week program in New York City for select entrepreneurs to test and scale their ideas. Then there’s a twist.

“The magic at the end of it is a Shark Tank-like presentation to a select panel, including a few of the richest people in the world. Some are investors, others are billionaires who have a passion for sustainability,” says Milikin.

The company already committed last year to brewing with 100% renewable energy by 2025 and has reached that goal in the U.S with its flagship beer Budweiser. In January, the brand also launched a new label for products produced with 100% renewable energy. These new overall sustainability goals take that commitment to a new level.

One example Milikin gives for what they’re looking to find during the accelerator is an idea that’s led to an application in California for AB InBev to fit its breweries with solar panels and use its wastewater for hydrogen to charge hydrogen truck fuel cells created by electric transportation company Nikola. “At that point, we’re 100% green,” says Milikin. “No emissions and completely renewable. We expect that to go through sometime in 2020 or 2021, based on the application.”


Another example of how these goals impact its business is in packaging.

“The lowest weight beer bottle in the world is 185 grams. If we could take that to 150 grams and still keep the iconic shape of, say, the Corona bottle, what technology is required to do that? It’s currently not available,” says Milikin. “We think that bringing together some of the brightest minds in glass tech together will help solve it. And if we solve it for us, we solve it for anyone with a glass bottle. That’s a major change.”

The first set of challenges for the initial open call to the accelerator bootcamps around the world will be announced in June.

About the author

Jeff Beer is a staff editor at Fast Company, covering advertising, marketing, and brand creativity. He lives in Toronto.