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Top 10 eco-conscious drinks groups

Ahead of our upcoming January issue that welcomes in the new year with a look at green initiatives in the drinks trade, here we round up 10 producers and companies taking ecology seriously.

Sheep tend to the vineyards at Yealands Estate (Photo: Yealands)

The Scotch Whisky Association recently announced that it is “on course” to meet its long-term sustainability targets.

With this, and the end of Project Climavin (Grupo Principe de Viana’s environmental research programme) looming on the horizon, green initiatives in the drinks industry has big news lately.

the drinks business is releasing its special Green Issue in January, taking an in-depth look at where ecological concerns are heading in the drinks trade.

However, in the meantime we’ve put together a list of 10 drinks groups taking environmental action.

Click through for more…

Grupo Prínicipe de Viana

This Spanish wine group’s “Project Climavin” is a research initiative focused on optimising winemaking processes to make them more energy efficient.

It also focuses heavily on researching “rational fertilisation”, a process of fertilisation that takes up up the smallest amount of water and uses the fewest nutrients possible.

Partially funded by a €60,000 EU grant, the project is costing €726,825 to realise.

Scotch Whisky Association

The Scotch Whisky Association has reported it is “on course” to meet the environmental targets it set itself.

It has cut the proportion of its packaging waste going into landfills from 13% to 2%.

Industry investment in renewables is also up 200% since 2012 and the use of non-fossil fuels has risen from 3% to 17% since 2008.

The SWA’s environmental strategy is the only one in Scotland to cover an entire business sector.

Yealands Estates

New Zealand’s largest private winery was given the country’s National Sustainable Business Award in 2014 for its substantial environmental efforts.

More impressively, that was the sixth major sustainability award won by the brand that year.

The actions taken by this company include using tractors that run on hydrogen generators, making eco-friendly wine bottles and using 15,000 miniature sheep to graze between its vine rows.

All that means that Yealands Estates is four times as energy efficient as the industry average.

Brooklyn Brewers

The producer of Brooklyn Lager has been taking environmental action since 1996.

That’s when it started recycling its used grain as animal feed and became fully wind powered.

Following that, the brewery has added high-efficiency boilers (in 2011), capturing steam from the brew kettle and using it to heat the hot water tank (in 2012) and introduced LED lighting (in 2015).

Square One

Square One vodka is completely organic. In addition to this, the company gets a quarter of all its energy from a local wind farm and sells all possible runoff as cattle feed.

Square One also sponsors the Environmental Media Awards and tries to offset its carbon footprint by donating to for every 40,000 air miles it racks up.

Its efforts have seen it recognised on US TV show Oprah, as one of the host’s “Favourite Things”.

Banfi Vineyards

This vineyard converted to lighter bottles in 2009. This may not seem like a major step, but swapping out 500 gram bottles for 400 gram ones (and, since mid 2014, 360 gram ones) saves substantially on raw materials.

Since making the change, Banfi has used 6,340 fewer tonnes of glass than if it’d stayed with its original bottles.

This saving has meant 24,416,666 KWh (Kilowatt hours) of energy being saved, which in turn has resulted in almost 8 million kg less in carbon dioxide pollution.

Sierra Nevada

A fifth of Sierra Nevada brewery’s power comes from the more than 10,700 solar panels it uses. The panels cover the equivalent of three and a half football fields.

All the vegetable oil the company uses is converted into biodiesel.

Visitors to the plant can enjoy the Mills River forest, reforested by Sierra Nevada, and charge their electric cars at the brewer’s free charger.

Despite becoming a significantly bigger operation in recent years, the company has kept its environmental ethos, even winning the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Business of the Year award in 2010.


TRU2 gin is keeping itself environmentally friendly by making 100% of its bottles fully recyclable. In addition to that, it plants a tree for every bottle sold.

The gin is organic, and doesn’t go through redistillation (part of the reason behind its unusual light brown colour).


Making its rum sustainable is a huge part of DonQ’s business plan.

The whole rum-producing process has been redesigned to be as sustainable as possible. The CO2 created is given to local soda companies. The waste water is converted into biogas and then put back into the distiller. Excess steam is directed into a turbo-generator that makes electricity for the factory.

Even DonQ’s waste products are put to good use. The runoff is composted, turning it into fertiliser or soil additive.

New Belgium

In 2013 this brewery kept 99.9% of its waste out of landfills. Instead the waste was reused, recycled or composted.

The company is entirely powered by renewables, and its stock is brewed in super-efficient kettles.

At present, its missions include reducing its carbon emissions by 25% per hectolitre of beer sold and to significantly reduce water-use in its brewing process.

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