The case for CSR/ Sustainability Reporting Done Responsibly


Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

Insights on how you can protect the environment, maintain and increase the value of your company, through a structured process.

Home / case studies / Case study: How Ambev reduces and recycles waste

Case study: How Ambev reduces and recycles waste

Ambev is the largest beverages company in Latin America, manufacturing, distributing and commercialising an extensive portfolio of alcoholic, non-alcoholic and carbonated beverages, and is firmly committed to reducing materials used in production, recycling, and the proper disposal of waste.

This case study is based on the 2016 Sustainability Report by Ambev published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.

Layout 1Abstract

Ambev has been investing in recycling for over 30 years  Tweet This!, with measures such as selective waste collection, innovations in sustainable packaging, and the Ambev Recycles programme. In order to reduce and recycle waste Ambev took action to:

  • implement the Ambev Recycles programme
  • reduce the volume of raw materials in packaging

What are the material issues the company has identified?

In its 2016 Sustainability Report Ambev identified a range of material issues, such as

product safety and quality, energy efficiency, atmospheric emissions, economic performance, development of human capital. Among these, reducing and recycling waste stands out as a key material issue for Ambev.

Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:

“The organization should identify its stakeholders, and explain how it has responded to their reasonable expectations.”

Stakeholders must be consulted in the process s of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.

Key stakeholder groups Ambev engages with:   

Stakeholder Group
Civil society
Health sector

How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues

To identify and prioritise material topics Ambev engaged with its stakeholders through in-depth individual interviews with representatives of all stakeholder groups, i.e. government, academia, investors, suppliers, customers, the press, civil society, the health sector and companies.

What actions were taken by Ambev to reduce and recycle waste?

In its 2016 Sustainability Report Ambev reports that it took the following actions for reducing and recycling waste:

  • Implementing the Ambev Recycles programme
  • In 2016, through the Ambev Recycles programme, Ambev provided direct support for 54 cooperatives in 19 cities across Brazil. This includes over 1,600 cooperative members who recycled and commercialised more than 38,000 metric tons of recyclable material, a substantial increase compared with 2015. Additionally, Ambev invested in the installation of 15 voluntary drop off points that collected more than 1,500 metric tons of material. In 2016 alone, Ambev organised over 100 environmental education activities directly impacting more than 11,000 people, promoting the question of recycling in a number of communities. In 2016 Ambev also consolidated the use of returnable beer packs and implemented a communication plan to explain to consumers that returnable bottles are better for the environment, because they may be used up to 20 times. Overall, the Ambev Recycles programme benefits consumers, cooperatives, society and the environment, and encompasses five activity fronts:
    • Environmental education;
    • Support for cooperatives;
    • Voluntary waste drop-off points;
    • Foment for the recycling movement;
    • Sustainable packaging.
  • Reducing the volume of raw materials in packaging
  • Ambev is engaged in reducing the volume of raw materials in its packaging. In recent years, the weight and the size of labels have decreased, and Ambev bottle caps are smaller. In 2016, Ambev also stepped up investments in returnable bottles that have a lower environmental impact and, since 2013, has avoided the generation of more than 25,000 metric tons of waste, by reducing the weight of its packaging in Brazil. In addition, Ambev avoided the circulation of 2.5 million metric tons of glass in 2016, a volume equivalent to the waste generated by 6.5 million Brazilians in the course of a year. Ambev’s efforts to expand the use of returnable packs have also been extremely successful, and the volume of returnable packs commercialised in supermarkets grew by 23% in 2016.

Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?

The GRI Standards addressed in this case are:

1) Disclosure 301-3 Reclaimed products and their packaging materials

2) Disclosure 306-2 Waste by type and disposal method


Disclosure 301-3 Reclaimed products and their packaging materials corresponds to:

  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Business theme: Resource efficiency of products and services
  • Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Business theme: Resource efficiency of products and services

Disclosure 306-2 Waste by type and disposal method corresponds to:


80% of the world’s 250 largest companies report in accordance with the GRI Standards

SustainCase was primarily created to demonstrate, through case studies, the importance of dealing with a company’s most important impacts in a structured way, with use of the GRI Standards. To show how today’s best-run companies are achieving economic, social and environmental success – and how you can too.

Research by well-recognised institutions is clearly proving that responsible companies can look to the future with optimism.

FBRH GRI Standards Certified and IEMA approved Sustainability Course | Venue: London LSE

By registering for the next 2-day FBRH GRI-Standards Certified and IEMA approved Course you will be taking the first step in gaining the many benefits of sustainability reporting.



1) This case study is based on published information by Ambev, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning.  If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:




Note to Ambev: With each case study we send out an email requesting a comment on this case study. If you have not received such an email please contact us.