Protect our planet
As an agricultural based company, environmental issues are not only important to us - they are essential components for a continued growth and success. Our aim is to look for ways to minimize our collective impact on the environment. Being smarter and more efficient with the use of resources is simply the right thing to do — for the environment and for our business. The Absolut Company works hard to minimize negative impacts on the environment, and the vision is to have a sustainable and circular production.
Sustainability has been prioritized over many years, which has resulted in reduced consumption of resources and increased reuse and recycling. The company has ambitious goals regarding water use, emissions and energy use, and tries to outperform them.
For Absolut Vodka and Elyx, we own and control the production facilities, as well as the transportation chain. For our other brands, the production is localized at facilities owned and controlled by others. Therefore, we have different strategies for our brands.
For Absolut Vodka and Elyx, we have worked hard to minimize climate impact from production and transports, as well as water use and other inputs. Our production in Åhus rets upon the strategy “One Source One Community, one superb vodka”. Absolut Vodka is manufactured in Åhus in southern Sweden from local ingredients. The vodka is distilled from winter wheat from local farms, and the bottles are made from more than 40 percent recycled glass, manufactured at the nearest glassworks in Limmared. The majority of the packaging materials are sourced locally and the water is pumped from local underground aquifers.
Water is a priority in the sustainability work. Even though Absolut Vodka is produced in a water-abundant area, a lot of work has been done to reduce water use. Technical solutions and more effective production methods have already reduced the company’s water footprint, and there are imaginative ideas about how to reduce it even further.
Today we have the lowest energy consumption per unit among all large distilleries in the world.
Since 2004, the energy consumption has been reduced by 45 percent and the carbon emissions by 80 percent per liter of vodka. Among large distilleries The Absolut Company has the lowest energy consumption per produced unit in the world. This has been accomplished partly by recycling most of the heat produced during distillation.
"We aim at creating one sustainable, circular source with zero emissions and zero waste throughout the value chain by 2040"
A lot of energy is also saved by reusing and recycling materials. The glass bottles are made partly of recycled glass, which cuts energy use in the manufacturing by ten percent. The company has set a goal of zero waste to landfill by 2020, and puts a lot of effort into reducing the environmental footprint of the bottles and other packaging. Environmental concerns are incorporated into the design process, and informed decisions are taken at every stage.
The Absolut Cultivation Concept
The vodka is produced from wheat grown and harvested in southern Sweden. The Absolut Company has developed cultivation techniques that optimize quality, while minimizing the need for fertilizers and pesticides. The techniques are shared with farmers in a program that maintains the quality of the soil and groundwater. Farmers who meet the standards are paid more, creating incentives for future improvements.
Circular business practices, in which resources are used and reused and by-products are regarded as resources rather than as waste, are both good for the environment and profitable. One such example is the use of stillage, produced when wheat is distilled to produce Absolut Vodka.
The stillage is a by-product of the process. Being rich in protein, the stillage is used to feed 250,000 pigs and 40,000 cows every day.
This approach– reduce, reuse and recycle – characterizes the company’s sustainability work. It is a matter of attitude. What can be used again is not waste, it is an asset.
"Our goal for 2020, is that 80% of the local transportation should run on renewable fuels – and we are well on our way"
About 600,000 bottles of Absolut Vodka are produced each day in Åhus. Production at this scale involves a lot of transportation. The majority of the bottles produced in Åhus are exported and consumed in other countries; only 1 percent is sold in Sweden. To reduce the emissions from logistics, the company uses mostly sea freight for international distribution. To contribute to making freight more sustainable, The Absolut Company is a member of the Clean Shipping Index, which works across the entire shipping industry.
40 percent of our local deliveries are made with renewable fuels. We’re aiming for 80 percent by 2020, and not long after that all our transport will run on renewable fuels. We’ve built our own filling station for locally-produced biodiesel and we’ve switched from rape-seed to leftovers from slaughterhouses for the production of biodiesel to avoid appropriating raw materials that could be used for food. Instead, we take care of waste and turn it into a resource. I think this is a great example of our sustainability work – we see an opportunity and a resource where others may see a problem or waste.
However, some production-related emissions remain. To take responsibility for these emissions, The Absolut Company invests in the Plan Vivo-certified forestry project “Scolel’te,” or “The Tree that Grows,” in Chiapas, Mexico. The project supports small-scale farmers to cultivate their land on a long-term basis through planting trees in combination with crops, so called agro-forestry. Deforested areas are reforested. While the trees grow they absorb carbon dioxide, thereby removing it from the atmosphere. The Absolut Company funds planting of enough trees to absorb the carbon dioxide emitted from the company’s production. The project provides more than carbon offsetting; it also contributes to increased bio-diversity and improved livelihoods for the farmers and their families.
Malibu and Kahlúa
For other brands in The Absolut Company portfolio, for example Malibu and Kahlúa, sustainability is prioritized in a somewhat different way. For these brands, the company doesn’t own the production. The environmental targets for water use, energy use and emissions are decided at the respective production sites. However, the Malibu and Kahlúa teams have indirect influence on production and direct influence on wet and dry goods.
For these brands, the company has identified agriculture, for example production of coffee and sugar, as the key sustainability aspect to focus on. The company has mapped the supply chain for Malibu/Kahlúa, three steps down the chain. This process has provided valuable information on where the largest risks are to be found. The mapping of suppliers is essential for designing ways to handle the risks – both sustainability and quality risks – so as to secure the production. The process has resulted in a well-developed method for setting sustainability standards and checking that they are followed, all based on knowledge about risks and materiality in the supply chain.