More and more Americans now demand products be made in an ecologically sustainable fashion, and companies are rising to meet the challenge. Sustainability is commonplace among many industries, but there is one sector where it is not thought of as frequently: liquor and spirits. One company is working to change that narrative through a $1 billion commitment.
Beam Suntory is a leader in the world of premium spirits. The company has set out the “objective of being the world’s most admired and fastest-growing premium spirits company, and a vision of Growing for Good…driving growth through quality craftsmanship, consumer connections, and entrepreneurial spirit.”
The company’s president and CEO, Albert Baladi, referred to such impacts as not “just the right thing to do – it’s a must-do for the sustainability of our business and humanity.”
The campaign, which builds on the company’s vision of ‘Growing for Good,’ sets clear targets to reach by 2030 and 2040. The company released a detailed roadmap of how to achieve these targets, splitting the objectives into three categories: nature positive, consumer positive, and community positive.
Beam Suntory is taking large strides to reduce its environmental footprint. “Through investments in efficient technology and cleaner fuels, Beam Suntory has reduced water use per unit of production by 22 percent and reduced greenhouse gases emitted by direct operations by 19 percent,” noted the company. Specific objectives for the company are:
Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Beam Suntory wants greenhouse gas emissions to be slashed by 50 percent across all company operations by 2030. The company also has set the objective of becoming carbon negative by 2040. In achieving these goals, the company has begun to transition its operations worldwide away from fossil fuels and toward renewable sources.
Reducing Water Usage
By 2030, the company is committed to reducing water usage by 50 percent for every unit it produces. Beam Suntory is also establishing programs to replenish the water it uses and support local communities, which it plans on having operational by 2040.
Planting More Trees
The context behind this objective is that the company would like to replenish the timber that has been turned into whisky barrels. Therefore, the company has set a target of planting 500,000 trees annually through 2030. In their pursuit of better business practices for the environment, Beam Suntory has committed to only working with foresters and suppliers that are fully sustainable by 2040.
Increasing Recyclable Materials and Use of Recycled Materials
By 2030, Beam Suntory would like to use 100 percent fully recyclable packaging for its products. The objective also includes using 40 percent recycled materials in the manufacturing of all packaging.
While the environmental commitments are large, they are not the entirety of the Proof Positive campaign. The company launched its Drink Smart initiative in 2016 to help consumers make smart choices about alcohol.
Partnering with evidence-based programs worldwide, Beam Suntory has committed to invest $500 million into expanding the Drink Smart campaign and responsibility-led communications. The company aims to engage more than 300 million consumers with these messages by 2030.
Beam Suntory wants to build an inclusive and equitable culture within their company, which includes “working to increase gender, racial, and ethnic representation across its business, and continue to engage and support employees around the world to volunteer their time.” The two key objectives set under this category are increasing women in companywide leadership positions and contributing more employee volunteer hours.
With a $1 billion commitment, the company promises to use the power of the free market to improve environmental and individual outcomes worldwide. We can all drink to that!
Kelvey Vander Hart is a native Iowan and a senior staff writer for the American Conservation Coalition.