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Singapore-based spirits distributor Proof & Company has just launched its zero-waste solution to spirits packaging, ecoSPIRITS. Their technology is the first of its kind in the world to tackle the carbon footprint and waste associated with single-use glass in the alcohol industry, and the company hopes to be able to close the loop for spirit producers, large-scale hospitality operators and bars.
A project 3 years in the making, Asia-Pacific’s leading spirits distributor Proof & Company is launching the world’s first zero-waste spirits packaging solution called ecoSPIRITS, a reusable and refillable spirits vessel system that will also help businesses save on costs. Having forecasted sustainability as the next trend to take over the bar industry, Proof & Company decided to develop a solution that could tackle the waste generated by the production, transportation and consumption of alcohol.
“In this industry, we celebrate provenance and origin. But unfortunately, this means spirits must travel tremendous distances to bring them to the bartenders and consumers who want them, generating remarkably high carbon footprints and costs,” explained co-founder Paul Gabie in conversation with Drink Magazine Asia.
The idea of ecoSPIRITS was therefore to reduce the overall impact of the spirits industry through tackling the use of glass in the supply chain. While glass is a 100% recyclable resource, much of glass isn’t actually being recycled or is not suitable for recycling due to being contaminated or broken into too tiny pieces to meet recycled glass manufacturing standards. Glass is also a heavy material that adds to packaging weight in transportation of goods, which is not only more costly from an economic perspective but an environmental one too, as it more weight in transit requires more emissions.
Not only is the recycling rate notoriously low in many Asian cities, the growing demand for glass means more virgin glass bottles have to be manufactured from scratch using sand rather than using recycled materials, a process that not only strips the depleting sand resources we have on earth but also requires huge fossil fuel fired furnaces that contributes significant carbon emissions.
At the heart of the ecoSPIRITS solution is ecoTOTE, a reusable vessel that carries 4.5 litres of spirit, which is filled up at a small footprint facility called ecoPLANT where different spirits from distilleries with bulk containers are stored. EcoTOTES, once filled up, are sent to bars where businesses can fill their own bottles and send the container back to the intermediary ecoPLANT. The company says that this reduces the carbon footprint of the spirits life cycle by up to 80% and eliminates 95% of cardboard and glass waste.
One of the key motivations for businesses to switch to using the sustainable zero-waste solution is cost. According to the company, the transformative ecoSPIRITS system generates savings in packaging, labour and logistics – costs that make up 70% of the baseline expenditure for most bars. The stack-and-click design of the ecoTOTE is also storage-friendly, reducing 30-70% of space, an important consideration for markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore.
Proof & Company says that the ecoSPIRITS is already operating in Singapore, Hong Kong Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland, and will go live soon in Shanghai in the future. During this “Phase 1” roll-out, the distributor has in store a lengthy lineup of craft spirits, including Tried & True vodka, Widges gin, Mackintosh Scotch whisky, Arquitecto tequila and Plantation rum. They have an impressive list of partners too, including Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts who will be committing to using this closed loop system across all APAC locations.
Looking ahead, the platform will be adding new brand offerings and partners in June, and plan to expand outside of Asia into Europe and the United States. But with its product development to industrial design and Asia-Pacific distribution network Gabie ensured that it will remain “very much a made-in-Asia technology.”
All images courtesy of ecoSPIRITS / Proof & Company.