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Jolly Greene Giant Gets Greener In Bottle

Added: Saturday, November 1st 2008

Greene King's aim is to become Greener King as the giant regional brewer makes a positive contribution to combating global warming. It's shifting its entire bottle beer production to lightweight bottles, which will take out 25% of the weight of each bottle. As the company produces 18 million bottles a year - a considerable saving.

The company, based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, produces 12 bottled brands, which at present come in 70 different lines or bottle shapes. Greene King dominates the sector, which is worth 162 million a year, and is now the biggest take-home brewer. The bottled beer sector is growing by 5% a year but Greene King's increase is nearer to 12%. Its annual production of bottled brands amounts to 18 million bottles or 400,000 barrels of beer and the company has overtaken Scottish & Newcastle, Marston's and Hall & Woodhouse to lead the bottled market. Packaged beers cans as well as bottles now account for 30% of Greene King's annual production.

Marketing director Fiona Hope says the savings in costs by shifting to lightweight bottles is not only good for the environment, but is important at a time when excise duty and the price of barley and hops have all increased dramatically. All bottling is now carried out in house, saving on journeys by brewery trucks.

Greene King's bottled brands include Old Speckled Hen, Abbot Ale, IPA and IPA Export, Strong Suffolk Ale, Hen's Tooth (bottle conditioned), Ridley's Old Bob, Olde Trip, St Edmunds, Sundance and Hop. The bottle shapes and sized will be whittled down to two core designs, which will reduce the amount of glass used by 25%.

Old Speckled Hen is now the Number One premium ale brand in Britain and is Number Two in the bottled sector. It has recorded a 23% growth in sales in the past year. It accounts for 11.8 million bottles a year and the saving in costs by moving to lighter bottles is the equivalent of 3.1 million bottles a year.

In other areas, the company has reduced the maximum speed of its drays and other delivery vehicles to 55mph. This saves on the cost of diesel and there is a further 6% improvement in fuel efficiency by filling tyres with nitrogen rather than air.

Greene King has appointed an environment manager whose aim is to save 1,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year in all areas of the brewery that's equivalent to the CO2 produced by 100 homes a year. All bottled beers are now sterile filtered instead of being pasteurised, which means no hot water or steam are required.

Head brewer John Bexon uses one local maltster, Greencore, for his grain supplies. Greencore is based in Bury St Edmunds and the two companies share advice on energy, fuel and effluent. The brewery uses Tipple, a new spring barley variety that is low in nitrogen.