Silent Pool Calls out Drinks Industry Over Sustainability
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‘If it can be Done, Then it Should be Done’: This Distillery Says Drinks Industry Needs to do More for Sustainability


Gin-maker Silent Pool is calling out the spirits industry for what Silent Pool believes to be a lack of sustainability efforts. (Image via Silent Pool Distillery)

According to Silent Pool Gin, The drinks industry has been inactive when it comes to sustainability. In a recent interview with The Spirits Business, the distillery implies that an alcohol company is only genuinely eco-friendly if it utilizes paper packaging, as Silent Pool uses for Green Man Woodland Gin.

In the interview, Silent Pool’s marketing manager Melissa Thorn said: “We hear a lot of other drinks companies saying ‘we are going to have a cardboard bottle in two years time and it’s just going to be brown and have the brand name on it,'” but asked: “How many of them are really doing very much about this right now? This year, we wanted to show that drinks companies can and should do things properly – they can launch a bottle like ours and have it look great and it does not need to take them years to do it,”

“This is really a nudge to the industry to show that it can be done. And if it can be done, then it should be done,” she insisted.

No doubt, the paper bottle is a remarkable innovation. Still, it isn’t the only way for a company to be eco-friendly. To imply that it’s the best way grossly ignores the many other avenues spirits companies have been moving toward more sustainable practices.

The Sustainability Movement in the Spirits Industry

Beam Suntory announced last month that it plans to invest more than $4 million into its sustainability initiative, which will aim to restore and conserve 1,300 hectares (1 hectare = 100 acres) of peatlands by 2030. Beam Suntory also announced plans to reach zero carbon emissions and use 100% recycled materials by 2030.

Brother’s Bond Bourbon, a new whiskey on the scene by Vampire Diaries Stars Ian Somerhalder and Paul Wesley, announced that the bourbon brand had purchased regenerative grain to go into the barrels, sticking to their original goal of creating a more sustainable bourbon. Even Moët Hennessy recently announced a $23 million investment into a new research center for sustainability.

Is Paper Packaging the Answer?

Recently, Springbank made headlines when it opted to move away from its production of paper bottles after discussions around climate change, the environment and the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference. Last year, Packaging Digest published an article detailing the pros and cons of of paper packaging.

“Current available data suggests that paper packaging generally requires several times more mass to fulfill the same function as its plastic counterpart,” said Packaging Digest. “As a result, the overall environmental impact tends to be higher for paper, except for its carbon footprint. Additionally, replacing plastic with paper could lead to a serious supply problem. Paper is a short-term solution and will simply shift the burden for packaging problems.”

That also doesn’t even begin to touch on the cost businesses face when switching over to paper products. Paper packaging is often more expensive than plastic packaging. A 10-20-cent-per-piece premium is standard on all paper items for packaging. This is a significant barrier to paper packaging adoption. This might be why Silent Pool didn’t switch all of its products over to paper bottles despite alleging itself the most environmentally conscious choice for the spirits business.

There are many distilleries and companies that may not have the resources to make the switch. Should they then shutter their doors because they are not able to use the most sustainable packaging practices? Of course not. Do they make an effort to make sustainable choices when possible? Let’s hope so and encourage our fellow businesses, not tear them down because they don’t use paper packaging.

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