Distillation is energy intensive and it unavoidably makes a negative impact on the environment. The liquor producing companies are working towards reducing their carbon footprint to negate their adverse climate impact by strengthening sustainable liquor production.
In addition to taking steps like replacing the plastic packaging rings in multipacks for more environment-friendly alternatives, breweries both global & local are creating effective technologies and building capabilities to manufacture biodegradable bottles for eco-friendly liquor packaging.
As per National Geographic, a million plastic beverage bottles were purchased each minute by the end of 2017. The plastic bottle’s journey from convenience to curse has played out quickly—in a single generation. Also, Paboco (Paper Bottle Company) states that around 80 billion plastic bottles are manufactured annually, & this figure excludes glass bottles and cans! That elucidates why spirit manufacturing companies around the world are intently working on creating eco-friendly liquor packaging.
Let us go through some liquor brands which have taken significant steps in sustainable liquor packaging to reduce the carbon footprint & are, thus, saying goodbye to glass and plastic bottles.
Brands switching to eco-friendly liquor packaging
Bacardi has planned to replace its petroleum based plastic bottles with eco-friendly ones by 2023. The new Bacardi bottle (100% biodegradable) has been created from Noda PHA, a biopolymer derivative of natural oils of plant seeds (like soy, palm etc.). Danimer Scientific has developed & manufactured this biodegradable polymer for liquor packaging at Bacardi. This bottle can biodegrade in compost, sea water, soil, fresh water & finally disappear without leaving any trace of micro plastics after 1.5 years.
Bacardi rum will be the first brand to use this new bottle and over time, its 200 other brands and labels like the Bombay Sapphire London dry gin, Grey Goose vodka, Patrón tequila etc. will follow suit.
By 2023, Bacardi aims to put on shelf its 80 million sustainable liquor bottles & also remove all its non-essential single use plastic like gift box & point of sale materials. This is equivalent to saving 3000 tons of plastic, making paper bottles an absolutely necessary step to fight adverse climate change & plastic pollution. Talk about a guilt free liquor indulgence!
Next in line is the Danish brewer Carlsberg Group which has already unveiled the world’s first ‘paper’ beer bottle in 2019, a prototype of its Green Fibre Bottle initiative at that time. The Carlsberg paper bottle is made of sustainably sourced wood fibre which is fully recyclable. To hold the beer inside, the bottle’s inner lining is made of PEF biopolymer. Carlsberg’s other eco-friendly prototype bottle has recycled PET polymer film barrier lining the inside.
This eco-friendly liquor packaging concept is a key part of Carlsberg’s sustainability program Together Towards ZERO, which aims at 100% elimination of carbon emissions at its breweries and a 30% reduction in its full value chain carbon footprint by 2030. Soon, your Carlsberg beer will turn up in an eco-friendly avatar at your doorsteps.
With 2 centuries old legacy, the Johnnie Walker whiskies will be rolling out in paper bottles starting this year. Diageo, the company which owns the brand, is keen about environment-friendly packaging of the whiskies that have been sold in glass bottles so far.
The new whisky paper bottle will be made by pressurizing pulp in moulds followed by curing in microwave ovens. Finally, a coating (unreactive to the liquor) will be sprayed on the inside to contain the liquor & prevent it from leaking out. All hail the Johnnie Walker new bottle!
Diageo claims that it uses less than 5% of plastic in its total packaging. The company also makes Smirnoff vodka so we are hopeful of paper bottles of vodkas lining your shelves soon.
Since late 2019, Absolut has been collaborating with the Paper Bottle Company (Paboco) in designing a new bottle which is made of pulp (sustainably sourced with FSC 100% label) with the structural strength of a fibre network.
The bottle’s composition is 57% paper 43% recycled plastic (PET) barrier film, can withstand the pressure from CO2 and the film prevents the transmission of water vapor & oxygen. Also, the barrier film can be separated and recovered from the bottle during the recycling process.
The new Absolut bottle aims at nudging consumers about recyclability & drive their conscious about eco-friendly sustainability while they are enjoying the Absolut vodka. The company aims to make the vodka a completely carbon-neutral beverage by the end of this decade. It is due to test 2000 paper bottles of its own pre-mixed carbonated raspberry drink in the UK and Sweden this year.
The company has also collaborated with brands like Carlsberg & Coca-Cola through the Paboco community to share learnings & capabilities in eco-friendly liquor packaging. A really ‘absolut’ commitment to go climate friendly!
Italian vineyard Cantina Goccia
With hints of Merlot & Cabernet Sauvignon, the Italian vineyard Cantina Goccia bottles its Sangiovese red wine in a 94% recycled cardboard. Made by Frugalpac, the standard 75cl Frugal Bottle can be refrigerated and kept cold for longer. The wines maintain their quality for at least a year in these bottles.
As expected, these cardboard bottles are 5 times lighter than their glass counterparts & have a carbon footprint 6 times lower. They also contain 77% lesser plastic &, not to mention, are easier to recycle. No wonder, Frugalpac is considering to pack gin, vodka, rum & other spirits also in these bottles.
World’s largest beverage giant The Coca-Cola Company has partnered with Danish startup Paboco (paper based company) to develop 100% paper bottles.
Their recently unveiled first-generation bottle prototype is made of fully recycled plastic closure with the inside barrier film made of plastic. The aim is to completely replace even this barrier film with another alternative in the coming times. Industry giants are supporting Coca-Cola’s plan. Coca-Cola aims to reach the goal of producing zero waste by 2030 by making 100% recyclable paper bottles.
The archrival of Coke is not behind. It is also collaborating with Unilever, Diageo (parent company of Smirnoff, Guinness & Johnnie Walker) and other FMCG companies (as Pulpex consortium) to innovate on paper bottles.
Beverage companies not only have to demonstrate their sustainability credentials but they have to seriously work towards environment conservation while balancing it with the production & packaging of liquors. A carbon-neutral manufacturing is what they are striving to achieve in order to minimize the adverse environmental consequences.
With the tireless efforts of these companies & the promising results discussed above, we can look forward to sipping our favorite liquor brands without feeling guilty about trashing the planet with discarded undegradable bottles in near future.