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Spirits initiatives championing sustainability

The spirits sector has made great strides when it comes to saving the planet through bold campaigns centred on sustainability. Here, we present 10 initiatives tackling environmental issues for World Earth Day today (22 April).

Jose Cuervo will roll out its agave-based drinking straws across the US and Mexico this year

Over the past few years, the spirits industry has sought to channel eco-friendly messages through its marketing campaigns in a bid to encourage the world to take notice of important issues such as recycling and waste reduction.

Scotch whisky producer Glenmorangie committed to saving giraffes from extinction through a three-year partnership, while Elephant Gin raised funds for elephant conservation charities.

Meanwhile, in the on-trade, Patrón Tequila and mixer producer Fentimans partnered with leading bars to highlight sustainability and at-risk species.

Click through the following pages to see our pick of top sustainable campaigns for World Earth Day. 


Last year, Tequila brand Patrón partnered with cocktail bars around the world to highlight the importance of sustainability in the on-trade.

The Bacardi-owned brand joined forces with venues including Stairs Bar in Berlin, Ends and Means in Melbourne and Trunk Hotel in Tokyo.

Patrón also created the Down to Earth cocktail, which was designed especially for Earth Day 2019 and showcased the ease with which a sustainable cocktail can be made at home.


Last month (March) saw Highland distillery Glenmorangie vow to save giraffes with a three-year global conservation partnership.

Giraffe numbers have plummeted 30% in 30 years, with some types of giraffe critically endangered, according to the Scotch whisky brand.

In a bid to protect the species from possible extinction and future harm, Glenmorangie partnered with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.


Earlier this year, Diplomático Rum producer Destilerias Unidas pledged to give 10% of the sales from its Canaïma Gin to support local foundations in the Amazon.

To produce its gin, Canaïma has partnered with indigenous people experienced in harvesting Amazonian botanicals in an environmentally respectful way. Canaïma Gin will also support the Tierra Viva initiative to create sustainable jobs for local people.

Canaïma is also working with Saving the Amazon, which uses technology and mobile applications to combat the destruction of the rainforest, and plant trees.


For World Earth Day last year, mixer manufacturer Fentimans partnered with leading UK bars for its Save the Botanicals campaign, which aimed to highlight endangered plants.

The campaign focused on at-­risk species through bespoke cocktail menus.

Teaming up with Plantlife, the wild plant conservation charity, Fentimans compiled a list of botanicals that were among the rarest in Britain, such as the spreading bellflower, red helleborine and lesser butterfly-­orchid. Fentimans also partnered with leading UK cocktail bars to serve a Save the Botanicals G&T.

Jose Cuervo

Tequila brand Jose Cuervo created a biodegradable drinking straw using upcycled agave fibres as part of its Agave Project.

The Agave Project is Jose Cuervo’s commitment to supporting the land and people of Tequila and Mexico.

As part of the project, Jose Cuervo will roll out millions of agave‐based straws across bars, restaurants and Jose Cuervo events throughout the US and Mexico in 2020, as it strives to cut down on plastic straw use.

The straws were created in partnership with scientists at Bio Solutions Mexico and the production team at Mexico‐based Penka.

Elephant Gin

Since its launch in 2013, Africa‐inspired brand Elephant Gin has raised more than €500,000 (US$557,000) to support elephant conservation projects and charities.

Elephant Gin, which produces its London Dry Gin, Sloe Gin and Elephant Strength Gin, donates 15% of its profits to relocating threatened elephants, which supports the care of orphaned elephants, pays for anti‐poaching rangers, and helps to run a wildlife education centre.

As well as preserving its namesake animal, Elephant Gin has also worked to support the people of Kenya. The brand worked with local beaders to decorate bottles of Elephant Sloe Gin, and sought to create other employment opportunities in “high unemployment areas”.

Elephant Gin has also taken steps to reduce its environmental impact. The brand’s bottles are plastic‐free and made using recyclable glass with a natural cork stopper.


Pernod Ricard’s Absolut vodka brand stepped up its sustainability game through a partnership with The Paper Bottle Company (Paboco).

The Absolut Company joined Coca-Cola, Carlsberg and L’Oréal in partnering with Paboco, which was launched in 2015 to research the possibility of a commercially-available paper bottle.

Through the partnership, Absolut and Paboco worked with designers and material experts to create a sustainable paper container that is capable of holding carbonated and still drinks, beauty products and more. The initiative aims to develop a fully-functional product made entirely of renewable fibres.

Maker’s Mark

Bourbon brand Maker’s Mark partnered with outdoor brand United By Blue on a new scheme that aims to remove more than 30,000kg of waste from the world’s oceans and waterways.

The Cocktails for Cleanups initiative saw the Beam Suntory-owned Bourbon producer team up with United By Blue to host four cleanup events in cities including Chicago, San Francisco, Houston and Los Angeles.


In January last year, coffee liqueur brand Kahlúa pledged to source 100% of its coffee sustainably by 2022.

The brand’s first sustainable development initiative addressed the environmental, social and economic impact coffee farming has as it strives to “bring positive change to the lives of Mexican coffee farmers and their families”.

As part of the push, Kahlúa provided education and training in sustainable agriculture techniques, practices and methods. The main goal with the training is to help farmers achieve better forest management, improve soil fertility and restore and protect the biodiversity required for healthy crops to thrive.



In 2018, Bacardi teamed up with environmental charity Lonely Whale to clamp down on single-use plastic and eradicate one billion plastic straws by 2020.

The Future Doesn’t Suck campaign saw Bacardi remove “non-essential”, non-recyclable single-use plastic across its global supply chain.

As part of the initiative, Bacardi and Lonely Whale also called for an end to the use of plastic straws in emojis.

The companies issued a “cease and de-sip” letter to the Unicode Consortium, the organisation that manages the emoji catalogue, requesting the removal of plastic straws from the soda cup and cocktail emojis.

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