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Portuguese Brewery Saves 72 Million Liters of Water Annually with GE Technology

Sociedade Central de Cervejas e Bebidas (SCC), a brewery in Vialonga near Lisbon, Portugal, has significantly reduced water usage by improving operating performance and reliability with help from GE’s (NYSE: GE) advanced membranes and water chemical technology. The site reused wastewater to its cooling towers, which enabled it to reduce its yearly water discharge by 72 million liters and reduce its annual fresh water consumption by the same amount. It also increased production performance by 40 percent in the tertiary treatment.

Front perspective of Sagres Plant

Front perspective of Sagres Plant

GE has awarded SCC an ecomagination award to recognize the company for its noteworthy reductions in fresh water consumption and wastewater discharge. GE’s ecomagination award recognizes the achievements of industrial users for striking a positive balance between today’s environmental, industrial and sustainability challenges. It is given to the top GE customers in environmental and economic performance.

“At SCC we strive to continuously improve the environmental impact of our brands and business; empower the people and the communities where we operate; and positively impact the role of beer in society. Brewing beer is water-intensive, and we are committed to increase sustainability and use less water, which is a precious resource,” said Ronald den Elzen, CEO of Sociedade Central de Cervejas e Bebidas, part of the HEINEKEN Group. “We are honored that GE has recognized us for an ecomagination award.”

SCC has some groundwater available at the site, but it was not enough to meet the needs of the brewery. The other option was to use extremely expensive city water. In addition, Portugal is at a high risk of water scarcity over the next decades, so SCC turned to GE to help develop a solution using GE’s advanced water technology.

By using GE’s low-fouling reverse osmosis membranes and advanced chemistry technology, SCC was able to improve tertiary water treatment performance, reducing shutdowns by five times, also contributing to cost savings.

The GE ecomagination award was presented today to SCC during a ceremony to celebrate the achievement.

“In recognition of SCC’s sustainability initiative and its commitment to reuse water and reduce both its fresh water consumption and wastewater discharge, we are pleased to present Sociedade Central de Cervejas e Bebidas, part of the HEINEKEN Group, with the GE ecomagination award,” said Ralph Hadley, regional executive Europe and Russia, GE Water & Process & Technologies. “Reusing water can go a long way to prevent water scarcity. By using GE’s water treatment membranes, chemistry technologies and technical expertise, we can help meet current and future water shortage challenges.”

The ecomagination award is part of GE’s ecomagination commitment, which focuses on developing technologies and solutions to meet tough environmental challenges like water scarcity. Through vision and creative innovation, GE is helping create a prosperous, better tomorrow.

This was not the first environment-related project developed together by GE and SCC. GE’s technologies contributed to other sustainable initiatives in the past years:

- The cooling tower monitoring and control system TrueSenseTM and GE’s advanced chemistry reduced make-up water consumption in the cooling towers by controlling concentration cycles at higher rates.

- The pasteurization process was improved with a significant reduction of water and steam consumption.

About Sociedade Central de Cervejas

Sociedade Central de Cervejas e Bebidas was founded in 1934 by four of the oldest Portuguese brewers. The “Sagres” brand was born in 1940, as a prestige beer for export, to represent SCC at the Portuguese World Exhibition, inaugurated in May of that year. The Group SCC – Sociedade Central de Cervejas e Bebidas, S.A. which also includes Sociedade da Água de Luso, S.A. belongs since March 2008 to the Heineken Group. SCC's head office is located at Vialonga. Its main activity is the production and commercialization of beer and malt and also the commercialization of water and soft drinks.

In June 1996, Central de Cervejas was the first Portuguese brewer to have the Quality System certified according with ISO 9001 and in 2008 the Vialonga Plant obtained the certification of its Environmental Management System in conformity with ISO 14001:2004. In 2011 SCC has the Food Safety Management System certified according with ISO 2200.

Brewing a Better Future is SCC’s long-term integrated approach to create genuine shared value for all our Stakeholders. Sustainability is part of how we manage our business. Protecting water resources and managing water usage are focus areas of our sustainability program.

About GE

GE (NYSE:GE) works on things that matter. The best people and the best technologies taking on the toughest challenges. Finding solutions in energy, health and home, transportation and finance. Building, powering, moving and curing the world. Not just imagining. Doing. GE works. For more information, visit the company's website at

About GE Power & Water

GE Power & Water provides customers with a broad array of power generation, energy delivery and water process technologies to solve their challenges locally. Power & Water works in all areas of the energy industry including renewable resources such as wind and solar; biogas and alternative fuels; and coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy. The business also develops advanced technologies to help solve the world’s most complex challenges related to water availability and quality. Power & Water’s six business units include Distributed Power, Nuclear Energy, Power Generation Products, Power Generation Services, Renewable Energy and Water & Process Technologies. Headquartered in Schenectady, N.Y., Power & Water is GE’s largest industrial business.

Follow GE Power & Water and GE’s water business on Twitter @GE_PowerWater and @GE_Water.

*Trademark of the General Electric Company; may be registered in one or more countries.

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