The issue of sustainability has been around for a long time but in recent years the industry has undergone something of an energy revolution. The benefits are numerous; being consistently aware of the environment helps distilleries cut back on long term costs, appeal to new markets and improve brand image.
By the nature of our agriculturally based products, the careful stewardship of the environment and natural resources is essential for the U.S. distilled spirits industry. Sustainable environmental practices are critical to the continual production of the high-quality products that spirits consumers enjoy. The industry’s goal is to maximize resource utilization and eliminate waste at every step. It is why we are dedicated to implementing sustainable best practices – efficiency matters, and from field to bottle, every drop counts.
Let us explore some of the top Environmental Sustainability Practices many distilleries are working on towards reducing their impact and footprint of spirits production.
Land Stewardship: Ethanol, which eventually becomes the finished distilled spirits product, is produced from various crops that have specific soil and footprint needs, and producers take these factors into account when evaluating land suitability. Needs for agricultural additives such as fruit, herbs, and spices are similarly evaluated. Producers plan carefully to reduce impact on local ecosystems, to make better use of soil nutrient availability and reduce fertilizer use, and to maximize crop yield through spatial efficiency and planting methods.
Responsible Water Use: Innate facility design and irrigation methods make for efficient use and re-use of local water resources in crop growth and production. Minimum fertilizer use is encouraged to reduce impact on waterways. Wastewater is thoughtfully managed and even reused in some cases.
Energy Reduction: When possible, facilities employ renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectric and solar power, to maximize the use of an environment’s natural renewable resources. Investing in new equipment and energy-saving technologies reduces the amount of energy used in ethanol production.
Circular Material Syncing: Producing distilled spirits affords many opportunities to reuse valuable resources. Spent grain from distillation can be provided back to farmers as a nutritionally-rich food source for animals. Water byproducts from the distillation process can be stripped of organic matter, then reused in irrigation for new crops.
Waste Reduction: The industry’s dedication to the reduction of plastic and single-use products and packaging is paramount to waste elimination. Producers and manufacturers aim to exceed mandated waste reduction efforts with an end goal of zero-waste generated.
In order to alleviate greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), producers take steps to reduce the burden on transportation systems. Domestically, increasing truck fill rates reduces vehicle time in transit. Internationally, ocean freighters can also increase container fill rates to reduce their carbon footprint. Low-sulphur and Compressed Natural Gas fuel types are encouraged to reduce carbon emissions.
No matter how small or large the change it all adds up, so let’s raise a glass to all environmentally-conscious distilleries who are making it their business to protect the planet while keeping our spirits high.