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1–2 July 2024
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Drinks brands bringing positive change

You’d be hard pressed to find a drinks brand nowadays that doesn’t have some kind of sustainability credential – and that’s a good thing. But there are some that have taken this to the next level, looking at various ways that they can make a positive impact, and putting this at the core of their business. This includes environmental impact, of course, but isn’t limited to that either, with some focusing on benefiting their local communities, or bringing about positive change further afield. Below are some of the leading sustainable drinks brands, as well as those bringing about positive change in other ways too.

Sustainable production

Sustainability has become a key consideration for all drinks brands, across categories, with many producers finding ways to reduce their impact on the planet in a variety of ways. For some, however, this is more than an additional consideration, but rather a core consideration. Among these is Avallen, self-described as “planet-positive calvados”. Building on the fact that calvados is an inherently climate positive spirit to produce, not least due to the impact that apple trees have on reducing carbon. In addition, Avallen also contributes towards organisations working to save bee populations.

UK-based Two Drifters is a carbon-negative rum, which achieves this primarily through its production methods, such as an electric distillery powered by renewable energy, a closed-loop chilling system, electric vehicles and more. Where it can’t avoid CO2, such as when it comes to its raw material, molasses, it works with carbon removal business Climeworks. Two Drifters removes more carbon that it produces, making it not just carbon neutral, but negative. Packaging for its rums is sustainable too, using waste material – sugarcane fibre – for its labels, for example.

Organic whisky distillery Nc’nean is b-corp certified, and has sustainability at the core of its brand, impacting every element of the business, starting with its use of organic Scottish barley, and extending to its renewable-energy powered distillery, with 99.97% of its waste diverted from landfill. It also has net zero carbon emissions, and packages its whiskies in a 100% recycled glass bottle. 

Environmental regeneration

Single malt scotch producer Old Pulteney’s location on the coast of north-eastern Scotland makes it particularly connected to the ocean. As a result, it is working with not-for-profit ocean initiative SeaTrees, run by LA-based Sustainable Surf, to help protect and regenerate blue carbon ecosystems that include mangrove trees, coral reefs, kelp forests and seagrass meadows.

B-corp certified distillery Warner’s, based in Northamptonshire, aims to make “epic drinks in harmony with nature”. Among its various positive environmental impacts is the benefit it has on its local area, creating new habitats for wildlife and ensuring existing habitats are safeguarded. It has also created a wetland and wildflower meadow alongside its botanical gardens, and ensures that the distillery isn’t at risk of polluting the local land, water or atmosphere. Warner’s positive impact extends to people too, giving its staff opportunities to volunteer with nature conservation, particularly through its memberships with conservation charities.

Responsible sourcing and waste reduction

From the outset, non-alcoholic aperitif brand Everleaf has paid careful attention to the way its botanicals are sourced, ensuring that this supports both the ecosystems and communities where they grow. In some cases, these botanicals are connected to social initiatives too. This has resulted, in part, in Everleaf’s b-corp certification. The brand is also carbon neutral, and is a member of 1% For The Planet, donating more than 1% of its turnover every year. On a social level, Everleaf supports industry charity The Drinks Trust, and Equal Measures, which supports support marginalised groups and individuals in the industry.

Among the growing number of brands tackling food waste, one of the more established is Black Cow Vodka, which uses the by-product of cheese production to create its spirit. Once milk has been separated into curds and whey, and the former is turned into cheese, the whey is often discarded. The team behind Black Cow instead distil this, creating vodka.

Another brand tackling food waste is Discarded, which produces a range of drinks using ingredients that would have otherwise gone to waste. Its Sweet Cascara Vermouth, for example, uses the fruit of the coffee berry, which is usually discarded in the coffee production process. Also in the range is Discarded Banana Peel Rum, and Discarded Grape Skin Vodka.

Eco-friendly packaging

There have been significant advances in recent years when it comes to creating more eco-friendly drinks packaging, with a growing number of brands making use of these. Among the more prominent is Isle of Wight Distillery, which considers the environment with every element of its packaging for its Mermaid Gin.

Made entirely from natural materials, with zero plastic, packaging includes a bottle made from recycled glass, a compostable neck seal made from corn and potato starch, and sustainably-sourced cork and wood stopper. Bottles can also be refilled at the distillery. The distillery has a positive impact in a variety of other ways, from its work with seagrass restoration to its partnership with Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

World of Zing, meanwhile, has recently introduced its Frugal Paper Bottle, made with 94% recycled paperboard and a food-grade pouch. According to the company, these are five times lighter than glass, with six times lower carbon footprint, using 77% less plastic than traditional plastic bottles.

Mezcal brand Quiquiriqui recently announced the launch of a 5-litre bag in box for its Espadin mezcal, the equivalent of six 700ml bottles. The environmental benefits are significant – from the impact of producing glass bottles themselves, as well as transporting them, not to mention a reduction in waste. For the brand’s customers, this new format is more cost-effective too.


There are various ways for drinks brands to offset environmental impacts, including the planting of trees. Sapling Spirits puts this at the core of its brand, having not only planted nearly 200,000 trees, but also allowing consumers to track the specific trees that their bottles helped to plant. Served Drinks, meanwhile, has helped to plant over 3,000 trees, as well as offset 50 tonnes of carbon. In addition, its use of fruit that would otherwise have been discarded has saved the equivalent of 6,500 peaches.

Social benefit

When it comes to improving the lives of the people involved in the production of drinks, a pioneer is Fair-Trade brand Fair, which produces a range of spirits and liqueurs. By using Fair Trade ingredients, the brand is able to have a positive impact on both people and the planet. In its own words, “based on the simple idea that the products bought and sold every day are connected to the livelihoods of others, fair trade is a way to make a conscious choice for a better world.”

Non-alcoholic beer brand Days has created what it calls Days Duty, a mirror of government duty on beer. This 2% duty is donated to mental health initiatives. In addition, the brewery is b-corp certified, verifying other aspects of its social and environmental impact.

Brewgooder is another b-corp certified beer brand that has set out to have a positive impact from the outset, supporting projects that provide access to clean water. The brand has established The Brewgooder Foundation, which provides funds to projects that help to empower communities. It aims to create opportunities for one million people by 2030.

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