Sustainability can be an overwhelming concept to wrap your head around. Especially when you consider that every part of your day has an ecological impact. Often, in ways that you may not even consider - like when you’re pouring your next drink, for example. Your drink of choice, and how it is made, is as important as the material it is packaged in.
While it’s relatively simple to recycle your bottles or cans – separating them into their respective categories – we could always be doing a little better in our pursuit to do the right thing. Like Sugarbird Gin who in 2019 traded their glass Mini Gin Bottle for a PET plastic version. According to PETCO, PET plastic is “a very versatile and sophisticated plastic called Polyethylene Terephthalate. For sound economic and safety reasons, it’s the plastic used to make the most common container in the soft drink market today: the plastic bottle”. According to Sugarbird Gin, well-designed PET bottles can be recycled into a host of things – from new bottles to furniture and clothing. This means there’s less waste going into landfills and the production of PET bottles instead of glass has led to a 66% reduction in the brand’s carbon emissions too.
More established alcohol brands are also getting in on the sustainability conversation and working to ensure that their manufacturing and packaging has a reduced negative impact on the environment. According to Paul Scanlon, Pernod Ricard South Africa's managing director, the company has launched a new Sustainability and Responsibility roadmapto 2030.The initiative aims to be a “springboard for a more convivial world, a world without excess” that is built on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). An example of one of these initiatives is Pernod Ricard’s Circular Making pledge, which strives to remove all plastic straws in the business, address packaging and waste, and reduce their carbon footprint by 50%.
At Distell, there is a shift in the fuel sources in their manufacturing process. According to the Distell Sustainability Report for 2109, the company has installed solar PV facilities and generates bio-gas for electricity at some of their sites. Distell has also established a sustainable water supply programme to reduce water usage; they have further established systems to manage wastewater and effluent at their manufacturing sites.
The South African Breweries and Anheuser-Busch InBev (SAB and AB InBev) Africa have set sustainability goals to be achieved by 2025. According to David Hauxwell, Vice President Sustainability and Procurement, in the company’s 2025 Sustainability Goals report, “We believe it is common sense to seek a world that is cleaner and more environmentally friendly to create an atmosphere and economy that are conducive to doing business. To do this, we have integrated sustainability into our business strategy, and have accountability monitoring and benchmarks in place throughout our business”. The company’s sustainability goals – to be achieved by 2025 – include: improved water security and access at 100% of their high-risk sites; 100% purchased electricity from renewable sources and a 36% carbon reduction; and increased recycled content of one-way glass bottles to 50%. They have also committed to implementing in-market recycling programmes in all 11 of their markets.
As more manufacturers, across industries, become mindful of the impact that business has on the environment, we will likely see a greater impetus for change in these markets. While you’re busy enjoying that much-needed drink after a tough week, or toasting a celebration, it’s good to know you can rest assured your impact on the environment is minimised too.