BIER Member Spotlight: Daniel Hernandez
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 am the EHS and Sustainability Manager for Casa Herradura and I have been working for Brown Forman since 2008. My responsibilities include developing and implementing sustainability strategies across Casa Herradura operations related to climate action, water stewardship, circular economy, sustainable packaging and sustainable agriculture. I support global key performance indicators of SeMQPDC including Safety and Environment, Quality, Production, Delivery, Costs, and lead with a Responsible Production mindset.
I have been fortunate because, for the majority of my career at Brown-Forman, I have been working in the environmental arena. As I mentioned, I work for Casa Herradura; it is one of the largest tequila companies in Mexico. I run the wastewater treatment plant and the composting process. I’m proud to say we have been recognized for our sustainability initiatives. In 2010 Casa Herradura received recognition for our sustainable operations. This is important as we were the first Tequila Factory in Jalisco state to receive this recognition. We also have received a federal environmental certification called Clean Industry from the state related to environmental compliance. We received level 1 certification at first and then level 2. The federal certification, level 2, is the highest level. In 2015, we received an award that is called Environmental Excellence because of the different sustainability activities that we made from 2008 to 2015. This is the only Tequila Factory that has received this recognition to date.
In 2021, Brown-Forman released an updated Environmental Sustainability strategy, as well as, our third set of public Environmental Sustainability (ES) targets. One of the most significant changes is the expansion of our targets beyond our four walls and including our supply chain for the first time. Our Environmental Sustainability strategy includes six strategic focus areas: Climate Action, Water Stewardship, Circularity, Sustainable Agriculture, Sustainable Forestry, and Sustainable Packaging. I’m encouraged by this because engaging with suppliers is a new and exciting opportunity for me in my role.
How has the company's sustainability program evolved over the years, and what are your specific priorities for 2022?
As I mentioned, in 2021, Brown-Forman released an updated Environmental Sustainability strategy, as well as our third set of public ES targets. We moved from a reduction of GHG emissions to a Climate action focus not only across our owned operations but through our supply chain in accordance with the United Nation’s 1.5° scenario. We evolved from a reduction in water use and wastewater discharge target to a water stewardship focus committed to protecting the health of key watersheds (water balance) in our communities, including Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) for employees in our workplaces. Also, the zero waste to landfill goal was changed to a circular economy and sustainable packaging target thus moving to a true sustainability path. We are also adding priorities and commitments for sustainable agriculture and sustainable forestry. Throughout 2022 we are developing the strategies to implement these new sustainability targets through different multidisciplinary and diverse teams across the world. It’s exciting times indeed!
Closer to home in my facility in Mexico, we have sustainability-related issues around water. As you can imagine, here in Mexico, water is the most important environmental challenge for us because we have a lot of water scarcity. Given that, I am glad that we have sustainability targets that align with our company priorities, but also, for our country and for our people. Because our updated Environmental Sustainability strategy includes working beyond our four walls with suppliers and stakeholders, having a focus on the local watershed is essential. It’s important to note that we are located in Jalisco, one of the 5 states in México that supports the growing of agave to make tequila and where you are available to produce tequila (in fact Jalisco is the state where Tequila was born). It’s similar to France and the champagne region. Currently, there are many companies using the same local watershed. This presents us with opportunities to establish agreements and work together to have a healthy watershed, support production, and the local community. As an added bonus, I’ve been fortunate to participate in the Charco-Bendito project and as a result of collaborating with others, I feel I can leverage the learnings and experiences gained from that experience to support the watershed efforts in the location where Brown Forman – Casa Herradura is located - here in Jalisco.