The drinks industry recently scored a mere 4.8 out of 10 for sustainability in the annual Drinks Industry Sustainability Index Trends Report, published by drinks firm, C&C Group, and sustainable research company, Footprint Intelligence. While the report acknowledged businesses are making green improvements to packaging, transportation, and waste, it found the key environmental changes needed have yet to be implemented. Nevertheless, progress is still being made with green initiatives like tree planting schemes and sustainable packaging making headway in the industry.
Only half of glass containers are recycled
The report found only 50% of glass containers are currently recycled in the drinks industry (200,000 tonnes of glass from bars and restaurants ends up in landfills every year). At the same time, sustainability is increasingly an important issue for consumers with 82% saying they’re working on minimizing the amount of plastic waste they generate, while 80% say they would be comfortable using an eco-friendly bottle return scheme. The report also suggested key action points for the industry, including using science when setting carbon emission targets, being transparent with consumers about plastic and packaging, and understanding and minimising the environmental impact in supply chains.
Tree planting initiatives
Tree planting initiatives have been helping businesses across all industries offset their environmental impact and now they’re finally gaining popularity in the drinks sector. By planting trees (or supporting other types of habitat restoration), distilleries can mitigate the environmental damage they may cause locally. By soaking up the carbon dioxide that contributes to climate change, tree planting programs enable companies to largely offset their carbon emissions and remain climate positive. Ellers Farm Distillery in North Yorkshire, for example, has teamed up with environmental organisation Ecologi, to start their Plant-a-Tree club. Whenever a customer joints the club, Ellers Farm Distillery plants a tree in their company forest. After signing up, customers will get updates on the forest’s progress, as well as any special offers currently on.
The issue of plastic pollution is a major problem in the drinks sector with brands now increasingly switching to sustainable alternatives for product packaging. For example, Coca-Cola now uses recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) for many of its popular drinks. Additionally, an “endlessly recyclable” food grade plastic bottle has recently been unveiled by major names in the soft drinks industry. The first of its kind, this new PET bottle is made solely from enzymatically recycled plastic (meaning an enzyme breaks down the PET waste into recyclable components). It’s the innovation of Consortium, a partnership between Nestlé Waters, Suntory Beverage & Food Europe, and PepsiCo — which means popular drinks like Pepsi Max, Perrier, and Orangina may soon be available in this new recycled plastic that’s virtually indistinguishable from regular PET bottles.
The drinks sector has a long way to go when it comes to tackling environmental challenges. Fortunately, initiatives like tree planting schemes and recyclable plastic packaging are helping to green the industry and create a more sustainable future.