Who Are The Best Sustainable Drinks Brands
Sustainability is a conversation that thankfully, has gathered some serious momentum over the last few years.
And let’s be honest, it was overdue.
Plastics straws had shots fired at them in 2018 and today they are held as a symbol of how sustainability has become mainstream. With a ban on the way, it shows that public sentiment has won the first battle.
The drinks industry is now mobilising on every level to become more sustainable. From bars delivering closed-loop systems to drinks brands utilising green energy, sustainable water sources and waste products in their production, there is a huge amount of positive things happening.
Sustainability in the drinks industry has become more than a debate, it’s now a “must-have”. We have long wanted to highlight how the industry can be more sustainable and as you can see in our sustainable cocktails article, there are lots of ways you can have an impact.
What’s great to see is the different approaches that each producer is using to tackle sustainability.
The majority of consumers have no idea what the impact that pint of beer or bottle of spirits is having on the environment and its great to see drinks brands taking responsibility for educating and delivering sustainable practices.
There are some brands that are doing sustainability better. We have unearthed some great green drinks brands who are leading the way for sustainability in the industry.
Cooper King Distillery
The team at Cooper King, led by Dr Abbie Neilson and Chris Jaume, has sustainability front and centre of their burgeoning empire. It’s authentic too and was a cornerstone of the business plan when they launched in 2016.
Based near York, they are one of only a handful of the 361 distilleries in the UK that use 100% green energy. On top of this, they pledge to plant a square meter of woodland for every bottle of gin they sell. To date, they have planted a whopping 10,000 square meters of woodland in the UK.
They have been widely praised for their commitment to sustainability and its an example to the whole industry of how you can create a brilliant drinks brand with sustainability at the core.
The products are worth shouting about too, with an award-winning gin leading the portfolio as well as some unique and highly innovative products from their pilot series including a berry and basil gin liqueur.
Toast Ale make beer out of waste bread…and its damn good. Astonishingly, 44% of all bread produced is wasted so Toast set out to repurpose and reuse.
Teaming up with a large number of bakeries and sandwich chains, they brew their delicious beers from the fresh unsold bread. The demand for bread for in the UK is phenomenal and its carbon footprint is huge. The innovation of brands such as Toast Ale cannot be underestimated and its impact on the reducing carbon footprint is huge.
To add to their sustainability creds, they also donate 1% of profits (or revenue, whichever is higher) to charities that work on fixing our bloated food system. In 2018 they were also awarded the B Corp (the first brewery to receive this endorsement) which is a rubber stamp of sustainability, transparency and green credentials. We interviewed Michael Laurence of Toast Ale earlier in the year.
Toast Ale has a delicious range at their disposal. We particularly enjoyed the craft lager, which had a distinct maltiness and aromas of bread.
The Sustainable Spirits Co
These guys have taken to tackling the waste in packaging through their super innovative approach to how they distribute their products.
The problem was obvious, the huge waste of bottling spirits and transporting this all over the UK was having a major impact on packaging pollution, transportation weight and volume and thus the carbon footprint.
The team set about creating the Eco-Pouch. These sustainable pouches, which come in a number of sizes starting at 2.8L, allow their customers to refill the spirits bottles time and time again.
Ingenius really, as it massively reduces energy, travel, waste and cost. The stats speak for themselves – they have saved over 200,000kg of potential carbon dioxide emissions and have prevented 300,000 bottles from entering the waste network.
In the wilds of western Scotland sits the fully organic Nc’nean Distillery. In terms of a closed-loop, fully sustainable drinks brand these guys do it all.
The distillery uses its own pure water from the source (many distilleries have to buy water in) and they use 100% renewable energy.
It doesn’t stop their though.
They also recycle the excess heat from the stills, by diverting this through their warehouse as an alternative to heating.
The leftover grain in the bin? No chance, even this is used, to feed the cows on their farm location. Waste products from the distilling is even rehomed as fertiliser for the farms fields.
Hats off to the team at Nc’nean.
Team Purity make amazing beer.
They have also built an awesome brewing business with sustainability front and centre.
Based out of a Warwickshire farm, they not only try and limit environmental impact, but they also where possible try to be environmentally enriching.
Take their pioneering and unique wetland water system. Wastewater from the brewery is not discarded but filtered and returned clean to the local River Avon.
Thye have also invested heavily in brewing equipment and practices that reduce their impact, from a heat exchange system which means they only use approximately 2.8 pints of water for every pint brewed (as opposed to between an average of 5 and 8 pints!).
Another sustainable thumbs up from this technology is an increased yield from their raw materials which directly reduces their demand for resources and thus the carbon footprint.
These cutting edge initiatives, as well a huge amount of other green practices have led the brewery to have a packed trophy cabinet of sustainable awards including the Best Green Business at the SIBA awards this year and Insider Magazine Sustainable Manufacturer Of The Year.
The newcomer to the Calvados scene who is certainly shaking up, what is, let’s face it, a fairly staid category.
Avallen built their brand around sustainable practice and have taken the plight of the bee under its wing with their Bee Positive Campaign.
So what are they doing?
They donate a portion of their revenue to charities who support and promote the protection of bees.
As well, they have also looked to see what other practical ways they can support the humble bee and this has led to a pledge to plant 10,000 wildflowers in the next three years to support bee colonies.
The top this all off, the liquid is fantastic and has brought plenty of awards to the disrupting drinks brand.
The Wiltshire based distillery is another example of a closed-loop system of production.
The idea of the closed-loop process is an important one. If more brands and companies can be largely self-sufficient, it will have a phenomenal impact on carbon emissions and the environment.
At Ramsbury, they are doing several things to be a closed-loop system.
They feed the farm cattle with excess grain, use water from their own borehole for the distilling process and return waste to the fields through a reed filtration system to cultivate the wheat they use in the gin production.
Even the trees on the farm are used as fuel to heat the stills and new trees are replanted in their place. This type of system is surely the future for food and drink production.
You Have The Choice
As a leader in the world drinks industry, we now have the choice to support brands who champion sustainability. Those who go the extra mile and put the environment before profits. The more, we as a consumer, demand basic sustainability practice from the brands we are loyal to, the quicker this green practice will become mainstream.
What You Didn’t Know About Sustainability In The Drinks Industry
- Coca-Cola produces 3m tonnes of plastic per year – multiply this across the whole industry and you can see the scale of the plastic waste issue.
- The global brewing industry creates 42 million tonnes of spent grain every year.
- Inefficient breweries can use as much as 8-10 litres of water for every 1 litre of beer produced.
- Food & drink manufacturers use 5.8% of the worlds industrial global energy usage.
- As a rule of thumb, the higher the alcohol content of your drink the higher the carbon footprint.
- The drinks industry scored 4.8/10 for sustainability in a recent report.
The drinks industry has a major environmental impact in ways that the general consumer would never consider. The question to ask yourselves are what factors influence the sustainability of the products?
There are many contributing factors from where the raw materials are sourced from, how much water does the production require, is the packaging sustainable, is the energy used in production renewable and is there much bi-product from production techniques?
Its time for us all to start drinking more mindfully and for us all to do our bit to help support these brands that are championing sustainable practice.