Within its industry, Bacardi has long stood out on the social responsibility front, going above and beyond “drink responsibly” campaigns. Now the Bermuda-based company says it has more than a little skin in the game when it comes to taking on plastic pollution and will launch compostable bottles by 2023.
If these plans come to fruition, the global spirits company said these compostable bottles could replace 80 million bottles, or 3,000 tons of plastic, annually.
The secret? Technology courtesy of Georgia-based Danimer Scientific, which has developed a polymer based on plant seeds of canola, palm and soy, will skirt the environmental problems fossil-fuel based plastics. Danimer Scientific and Bacardi claim these new compostable bottles will decompose in 18 months, whether they are composted, left in soil, or end up in freshwater or the ocean. In contrast, depending on the source cited, conventional plastic bottles take 400 to 500 years to decompose — and then there is that pesky microplastics problem.
Further, the use of this polymer will help Bacardi sidestep one of the wider beverage industry’s larger challenges: the plastic linings found in bottle closures. “It may sound small,” said Jean-Marc Lambert, the company’s senior vice president of global operations, “but add that up across every bottle produced globally, and we’re talking many tons of plastic every day. Once we’ve fixed the problem, we’ll be open sourcing the solution for the entire industry to use.”
Bacardi says it’s also working on a paper-based sustainable bottle, similar to one that a competitor, Diageo, has announced it will roll out next year.
Additional causes that Bacardi has taken on in recent years include helping small businesses recover after hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean; ocean cleanup efforts including pushing back against the use of plastic straws through a partnership with the NGO Lonely Whale; and supporting job training programs designed to help young people find employment.
In the long run, Bacardi says it has goals to become plastic-free within the next 10 years. That work, in addition to these compostable bottles, include the elimination of single-use plastics within its products, plastic gift box materials, and any plastic items within the point-of-sale materials the company provides to merchants and retailers.
Image credit: Bacardi
Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.