Montanya Distillers goes plastic neutral

27 Jan 2021

Concerns about sustainability and package waste have driven manufacturers to look for alternatives to plastic. Montanya Distillers, a craft rum distillery and Certified B Corporation, is the latest participant in this movement, but the company has taken things farther than simply extending promises to increase sustainability and is now certified as plastic neutral.

To achieve plastic-neutral status and give the company’s rum bottles a net-zero plastic footprint, the Colorado distillery partnered with rePurpose Global to fund the collection, processing, and reuse of the plastic components used across Montanya’s operations. Additionally, the company said it will work with rePurpose Global to reduce the future use of virgin plastics in its manufacturing and delivery process to build a more circular model.

Montanya Distillers goes plastic neutral
Photo: Montanya Distillers

RePurpose Global focuses specifically on hard-to-recycle waste streams otherwise too low value to be reclaimed from the environment, such as chocolate wrappers, chips packets, and similar flexible packing items. In order to sustainably recycle these low-value items, the initiative supports the waste management social enterprise CarPe in India which collects and processes such refuse while increasing the income stream for more than 50 Indian waste pickers and their families.

Reducing one's plastic footprint is a growing initiative for many manufacturers worldwide, but the beverage industry has particularly taken to this mission. Bacardi recently committed to bottling all its brands in 100% biodegradable plastic packaging by 2023. Coca-Cola, Carlsberg and Pernod Ricard-owned Absolut have forged a partnership called Paboco to work toward perfecting paper bottles for beverages; Diageo said it would launch a paper-based bottle for its Johnnie Walker scotch whisky early this year. And Nestlé is developing biodegradable water bottles.

Despite all these efforts, PET plastics remain a mainstream choice for manufacturers and account for the majority of virgin plastic in the environment. Although consumers are calling for green solutions, plastic remains popular due to its functionality and ability to keep products fresh, hold liquids and endure temperature changes.

The difficulties associated with creating a sustainable packaging solution that delivers the functionality of plastic has led many companies, including Montanya, to seek out alternative recycling capabilities. RePurpose Global with its dedication to not only sustainable recycling but its efforts to provide a living wage to waste workers’ incomes in India has surged in popularity with corporations in recent months. However, the sustainable recycling company is not the only solution available.

German packaging company Südpack has come up with sustainable packaging concepts for meat products that use significantly less material, scientists at Carbios have discovered an enzyme that breaks down 90% of PET plastics into food-grade material within hours, and yet others are simply committing to using recycled plastic in their containers.

Today, offering sustainable packaging is becoming less of a luxury and more of a baseline requirement. As almost half of U.S. consumers are likely to change their purchasing decisions to meet environmental standards, according to a 2018 Nielsen survey, it would behoove companies like Montanya to continue to prioritize sustainability as part of their operations.

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