The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, America’s (DISCUS) leading advocate for the distilled spirits industry, announced the formation of its Craft Distiller Sustainability Taskforce to collaborate and share effective strategies for maximizing resource utilization and eliminating waste at every step of the production process.
“The distilled spirits industry remains deeply invested in protecting our environmental and natural resources,” said Chris Swonger, president and CEO of DISCUS and Responsibility.org. “This new task force will exchange ideas and share best practices on preserving the watercraft distillers use to produce their wonderful spirits, finding more efficient ways to use energy and identifying alternative uses for byproducts.”
The task force, which was created to support sustainability efforts by small distilleries, will participate in the development of industry-leading best practices and guidance and encourage craft distillers to incorporate sustainable practices into their businesses.
The co-chairs of the task force are Connie Baker, co-founder, CEO, and head distiller at Marble Distilling Company; Carey Shanks, co-founder and spirit advisor at Marble Distilling Company; and Carlo Luri, director of government affairs at Bently Heritage Estate Distillery. Taskforce leadership will participate in DISCUS Sustainability Committee meetings and report back to the full task force on relevant developments for discussion or further action.
“Distilled spirits are agriculturally based products. Careful stewardship of the environment is essential for the continued success of our great industry. Marble Distilling Company and the craft distilling community know this well, and are dedicated to sustainable practices,” said Baker. “Efficiency matters, and from field to bottle, every drop counts. We look forward to sharing what we’ve learned over the years and working with our peers to glean new insights from our colleagues on the task force.”
Spirits companies employ a range of sustainability strategies including:
- Land Stewardship: Producers are reducing the impact on local ecosystems by making better use of soil nutrient availability, reducing fertilizer use and maximizing crop yield through spatial efficiency and planting methods.
- Responsible Water Use: Producers are updating their facility design and irrigation methods for more efficient water use and re-use of water resources in crop growth and production. Wastewater is continually managed and even reused in some cases.
- Energy Reduction: Whenever possible, facilities are employing renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectric and solar power, to maximize the use of an environment’s natural renewable resources. Investment in new equipment and energy-saving technologies are reducing the amount of energy used in ethanol production.
- Circular Material Syncing: Producing distilled spirits affords many opportunities to reuse valuable resources. Spent grain from distillation is often provided back to farmers as a nutritionally-rich food source for animals. Water byproducts from the distillation process are stripped of organic matter, then reused in irrigation for new crops.
- Waste Reduction: The industry is dedicated to the reduction of plastic and single-use products and packaging. Producers and manufacturers aim to exceed mandated waste reduction efforts with an end goal of zero waste generated.
- Evaluating Transport Burdens: In order to alleviate greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), producers are taking steps to reduce the burden on transportation systems by increasing truck fill rates that reduce vehicle time in transit and increasing container fill rates in ocean freighters to reduce their carbon footprint. Low-Sulphur and Compressed Natural Gas fuel types are encouraged to reduce carbon emissions.
Building on this mission-critical work, the task force will focus its efforts on tasting room practices, benchmarking and reporting, policy and legislation, marketing, tourism, supply chain, regenerative agriculture and farming, recycling, shipping and packaging.
The task force held its inaugural meeting on Feb. 23, 2022. Members of the task force will convene again at the 2022 DISCUS Annual Conference in New Orleans, La., on June 8.
Learn more about DISCUS sustainability efforts Here.
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