BIER Member Spotlight: Arnaud Thoni

Meet Arnaud Thoni
Aug 26, 2021 12:10 PM ET

Name: Arnaud Thoni, Global Sustainability & Innovation Manager

Company: The Heineken Company

Connect with Arnaud on LinkedIn

Welcome to our series aimed at spotlighting the individual leaders within BIER member companies and stakeholder organizations. Learn how these practitioners and their companies are addressing pressing challenges around water, energy, agriculture, climate change, and what inspires each of them to advance environmental sustainability in the beverage sector and collectively, overall.

Briefly describe your role and responsibilities and how long you have worked with your company.

I joined Heineken in November 2017 within the Global Procurement team and was then appointed to lead the sustainability agenda on what we call our Commerce activity. To make it simple, we define the commerce category as everything related to our sales and marketing activity. This includes all the items you would think about related to advertising and content production, media buying and planning, and market research and insights. In addition, it includes all of the points of sale materials and everything that is related to trade, marketing events, and commercial equipment. I'm tasked with mitigating the environmental impact of all that commercial activity.

From a day-to-day experience, I explain it this way.

When you think about our company’s carbon footprint, we are pretty similar to the other beverage companies along the lines of raw materials and agriculture-related impact, packaging, logistics, production, and beverage cooling. But as we're moving towards our new ambition to be carbon neutral through the entire value chain, we are talking also about the extra scope that is covered in the commercial area. We ought to address also less obvious marketing and selling expenses, such as media, events, and everything around the point of sale materials like the parasols and other brand visibility items we place at a bar, or the plastic cups that we put at events. There are many items and services that we need to consider and this is beginning to expand my scope and focus.

How has the company's sustainability program evolved over the years, and what are your specific priorities for 2021?

Initially, we had the Better World Program, which was kicked off in 2010. The first wave of actions was focused on our own production; essentially, all that we were doing in and around our breweries. At that time, it made sense because that is where, with great visibility and control on our activity data, we could have the most immediate impact. Then, over the course of 10 years, from 2010 to 2020, there was a ramp-up towards what we could do with our scope 3 emissions, including logistics, packaging, cooling, and agriculture.  From there, within procurement, we created the foundations to address the question of how do we accelerate our sustainability ambition, engaging and collaborating with our suppliers to create a roadmap for sustainable innovation and associated impact. That's basically how my job got created. Fast-forward to now, and I have peers doing exactly the same thing as me, but in their own categories and in their own portion of addressing our carbon footprint through the entire value chain. Specific to my role in the commerce area, the challenge is to be effective I must collaborate with suppliers and also consider how we interact with our customers.

Specific to my role in the Commerce area, my priority and challenge is to find the right balance between our commercial priorities and sustainability ambition. Yes, we want to completely mitigate our environmental impact, and therefore, among other things reduce unnecessary demand for new marketing materials for instance, but we need to do it in a smart way. We just need to find the sweet spot of the type and quantity of marketing materials that we deploy in a market, how they are designed to be recycled or to be reused, and how we may keep them in use for longer periods of time (potentially through refurbishment). All this ensuring that we're aligned with the commercial priorities.

The focus is obviously still beverage cooling but with, as I mentioned an evolving scope related to all of the touchpoints where our consumers are consuming our products. This includes the bars, the shops, the events. And there are new topics that will require further exploring such as the realm of advertising.

Learn more about Arnaud Thoni in this BIER Member Spotlight.