Although pollution and plastic recycling have often been at the center of sustainability discussions in the food industry, a sector like alcoholic beverages uses much less plastic but more glass and aluminum for its packaging.
Alcoholic beverage company Lion, which is a subsidiary of Japanese giant Kirin and also operates several well-known brands in Australia and New Zealand including Lion, Kirin, Steinlager, Little Creatures and many more, recently released its report. Sustainability 2020, highlighting its achievement of becoming Australia’s first carbon neutral brewer in April 2020.
“As a business, Lion is ultimately a heavy consumer of energy – we use both electricity and natural gas for our operations, where the former is used extensively for refrigeration and motors and more, and the second in particular for boilers “,Lion Environment Director Justin Merrell said FoodNavigator-Asia.
“It was particularly difficult to find a sustainable substitute for natural gas, [but overall] in 2020, we managed to reduce our carbon footprint by 28% in absolute terms since 2015, which puts us on track to meet our carbon reduction target of 55% by 2030.
“For all the carbon emissions that we have failed to eliminate by increasing energy efficiency or using solar power or biogas, we have purchased certified carbon credits to offset any remaining footprint.”
When it comes to packaging issues, Merrell stressed that alcoholic beverage companies need to care more about aluminum and glass than plastic, but added that their high recyclability still makes them a good packaging choice. .
“By weight, we use around 85% glass and then a lot of aluminum as well. I would say both materials are very important as they are both relatively easily recyclable and are part of our 100% recyclable packaging target by 2025 ”he said.
“Glass and aluminum are both carbon intensive in their production, but if they are recycled the carbon footprint really goes down very drastically.
“I’m sure these materials are here to stay, especially when it comes to beer, so one way to reduce emissions, for example transport emissions when transporting glass which can be quite heavy, is to take advantage of local producers for this. to focus on local transportation routes – we were importing glass bottles from the Middle East, and we reduced that, turning to local producers after realizing how much it added to the carbon footprint.
However, it’s easy to talk about recycling in countries with more advanced recycling systems like Australia and New Zealand – but the problem arises when you look at less advanced regions that still love their beer and beer very much. alcohol.
“It’s true that there are places with less advanced recycling systems that need to be looked at, like Indonesia, which is really tough not only for glass and aluminum, but also for plastics.”Merrell said.
“The only option here is to really create value for these materials – and that’s where the big companies come in to create the market. For example, we are looking at Coca-Cola buying recycled bottles in Taiwan – whether such a market can be created in Indonesia where the products are valued and can inspire locals to collect them. [for recycling], then that would help put in place a really viable system.
“So, in short, there is a need to put a monetary value on these products in order to drive such sustainability initiatives at the local level. “
The future of sustainability
Going forward, Lion also predicts that consumers will want to take a more active and participatory role in the sustainability of food and drink products, including alcohol.
“We already know that consumers increasingly want brands to be more sustainable and make a difference for the environment, and now they also want the opportunity to engage in this change as well,”said Kathryn Wightman-Beaven, Director of Sustainability at Lion.
“This includes through their purchasing choices, packaging, focus on waste, social issues, messaging and more; over the next few years.
“We are already seeing some of this – Australians have already let brands know that they want their products to be sourced locally, recycled packaging made in Australia or New Zealand, possibly a response to COVID -” 19, and look to brands to help them support the local. There has also been an increase in refill options, where people bring their own containers to grocery stores to refill them and be part of the sustainability shift that way. “
Merrell, on the other hand, believed that the future will see much more collaboration in the private sector to advance sustainability initiatives.
“We’ve seen this happen with renewables in the region where the government first sowed this, but private companies eventually stepped in and aligned their efforts to drive high adoption – I think so will. even for sustainability in food and drink. industry,”he said.
Lion is committed to achieving a global net zero value chain by 2050.