• Staff writer


In collaboration with its partners WWF South Africa and the Nature Resource Management Programme, SA Breweries has launched Project Popeye. This initiative will develop a commercial 2000 m² drip irrigation system that will help a local business sustainably grow spinach in raised beds. The Ibhayi Brewery is situated in the Eastern Cape and approximately 2.5 billion litres of water have been released into rivers and basins over the past six months through watershed investment.

The unique value of the project is that the water and nutrient requirements of the crops are fully provided for by the wastewater generated in the brewing process, with no need for additional water or fertilisers. The spinach beds only use about 10% of the water, with 90% still available for re-use, and this ‘polishing’ of water allows the brewery to recover more water through its water recycling plant. The losses from production normally become a waste management liability for a business, society or the receiving environment. In SAB’s approach, these nutrients can be transformed into a new agricultural product, turning a potential loss into a sustainable business with a literally green product.

What began as a project to treat water has become the first fully green biological treatment system for a brewery in Africa, enabling the continuation of research at Rhodes University and a source of job creation. The benefit of maximising the efficient use of natural resources is critical in a water scarce country like South Africa. With project Popeye, SAB has proved its commitment to the environment and local communities.


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