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The Beverage Industry is Taking on Climate Change

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As climate change accelerates, consumers are increasingly concerned with the way large corporations are taking on environmental responsibility. Many consumers, especially those in the younger generations, expect companies to take steps to reduce their environmental impact. Companies in the beverage industry are responding - from more widely used practices of sustainable packaging - to new, innovative ideas including the use of recycled water and whiskey made from an invasive crab species.

Pressure for Positive Change

Sustainable packaging is now becoming more of the norm for beverage companies, thanks in large part to pressure from Gen Z and Millennial consumers. According to Forbes, 75% of Gen Z consumers state that sustainability is more important to them than brand name when making purchase decisions. Across generations, 73% combined feel that sustainable packaging is very or somewhat important today. Some companies are taking sustainable packaging a step further, moving beyond the more widely used methods of using recycled materials, to innovative alternatives. Notpla is one example of a company taking sustainable packaging to the next step. This startup founded in 2014 creates sustainable packaging for food and beverage companies. Their packaging material is made from seaweed and plants and biodegrades naturally.

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Innovative Ideas

Other companies are looking past packaging and incorporating sustainable practices to the actual creation of the beverages themselves. Tamworth Distilling is one beverage company taking innovative steps to help the environment by making whiskey from an invasive crab species. Rising ocean temperatures are providing a better environment for invasive species to survive. Green Crabs are one of the most successful invasive species in North America and they disrupt marine ecosystems by eating large quantities of mussels and destroying fish habitats. Tamworth Distilling aims to try to slow the growth of this invasive species by using these crabs in their whiskey. The thousands of crabs are cooked down into a stock, blended with the bourbon, and steeped with spices reminiscent of a low-country seafood boil to create the whiskey that is a "briny and better Fireball," according to Tamworth founder Steven Grasse.

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And Tamworth Distilling isn’t the only company using innovative thinking to help save our planet. Brewwerkz, a Singapore based brewery, is using recycled water to make their Newbrew beer line that just launched publicly in April. The beer uses Newater - Singapore’s brand of clean, high quality recycled water. Newater was launched in 2002, and is one of Singapore’s strategies for ensuring water security in the future. The recycled water adheres to the international standards for drinking water and is also clean enough to be used in beer brewing.

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Starting at the Source

Some brands are looking to use sustainable practices when sourcing ingredients. In 2021, Illycaffè coffee company Chairman Andrea Illy set out to transition all of the company's extensive coffee farming operations to regenerative farming, saying ​​“The mother of all causes now is climate change. It has to be a soil-to-soil carbon cycle. We need to sink carbon in the same soil where we grow our coffee.” And Illycaffè isn’t the only coffee company incorporating regenerative farming in their coffee bean growing. Brands such as Good Citizen Coffee Co. and Heirloom Coffee Roasters are just a couple examples of the companies that are joining the growing movement behind regenerative farming.

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As we look to the future and begin to face increasingly detrimental climate change, consumers will continue to place great importance on brands’ sustainability practices. Hopefully this consumer pressure will encourage brands to keep adapting and innovating to come up with solutions that reduce their environmental impact.

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