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  • Writer's pictureVik F.

Sustainability Revolution in the Beverage Industry: From Closed-Loop Spirits to Natural Wines

The beverage industry is at a fascinating crossroads, and sustainability is the name of the game. It's no longer just about being ethically responsible; it's now a strategic imperative for businesses looking to flourish in a world where environmental concerns are taking center stage. Maria Pearman, a key figure in the food and beverage practice at GHJ, underscores that sustainability has swiftly become a top priority for many organizations.

What's even more intriguing is that consumers are increasingly willing to put their money where their eco-friendly values are. They're showing a genuine willingness to shell out more for products that are genuinely sustainable. This shift in consumer behavior is causing seismic waves in the industry.

One sector that's been quick to catch on to this trend is the cruise line and hotel industry. Take Norwegian Cruise Line, for instance. They introduced their Sail and Sustain program, which is all about whipping up zero-waste cocktails using ingredients that would typically go to waste, like coffee grounds, banana peels, and orange peels.

Their latest addition, the Norwegian Prima, launched in 2022 and boasts the brand's very first sustainable cocktail bar – the Metropolitan Bar. Here, they're serving up responsibly crafted, zero-waste cocktails made from surplus ingredients, alongside a fully sustainable spirits menu and biodynamic wines.

Holland America Line has also made strides by initiating a global fish program. This bold move involves sourcing and serving a staggering 80 types of fresh fish on board in their restaurants, ensuring the fish goes from port to plate in under 48 hours. They even went the extra mile by being the first cruise line to serve 100% fresh, certified sustainable Alaska seafood on their Alaskan ships.

Carnival Cruise Line has partnered up with Bacardi to make waves in sustainability by introducing closed-loop packaging to the cruise industry. They're testing the use of reusable containers specifically designed for maritime use to serve Bacardi rum on Carnival ships. The goal? To slash single-use packaging by a whopping 95%.

This initiative is being put to the test on three ships operating from Miami – Carnival Celebration, Carnival Horizon, and Carnival Sunrise. Each ecoTOTE, designed to replace around four bottles of Bacardi Superior rum, can be used, cleaned, and refilled approximately 100 times, creating a sustainable closed-loop system. As if that's not impressive enough, this collaboration also throws its weight behind the ecoSPIRITS Oceans Program. For every cycle of an ecoTOTE delivered as part of the pilot, a donation goes toward the removal of over 2 lbs. of single-use plastic, glass, and other waste from endangered marine environments.

Zachary Sulkes, the senior director of beverage operations at Carnival Cruise Line, sees this initiative as a testament to creative partnerships and practices in pursuit of sustainability.

But it's not just the big players making moves; bars and restaurants are also joining the sustainability wave. With the surge in to-go orders post-Covid, many establishments are investing in sustainable packaging. It's an easy way to incorporate sustainable practices into their business and align with consumer values.

Take City Winery, for example. They're pioneers in the culinary and cultural wine experience world, and they recently launched a reusable bottle program. Customers can grab wine to go, return the bottle to be cleaned and sanitized, and score a $5 credit toward their next bottle. It's a win-win, reducing waste while getting customers involved in sustainability efforts.

Another trend making waves is serving drinks on tap rather than in bottles or cans. It's not just eco-friendly; it's also cost-effective. Many restaurants are now purchasing wine by the keg, offering an innovative and sustainable solution.


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