How environmentally friendly are wine and beer?

30 Mar 2023
4 min read
Friends drinking

Whether it’s for the annual dry January, a health kick, to lose weight before a holiday or simply to save money, there are lots of reasons people change their drinking habits.

Is our love of alcohol harming the planet and if so, are there greener ways to enjoy a tipple?

But just how often do you stop and think about how green your alcohol consumption is? Have you ever asked yourself how many food miles your beer has travelled or how does wine contribute to climate change?

Wine miles

Yes, wines and spirits come in glass bottles mostly that can be recycled and beer in cans that recycle too but what about the carbon footprint it takes to get from wherever it’s produced into your hand at the pub or on the sofa on a Friday night? Is our love of alcohol harming the planet and if so, are there greener ways to enjoy a tipple?

British brewed booze

There are two ways to think about the answer to this, the first is to think about mileage – in the same way that seasonal eating reduces food miles because you’re eating what’s produced on your doorstep, so does local drinking, and I don’t mean going to your pub around the corner.

Most counties in the UK have local breweries, whether they’re on a bigger or microbrewery scale so have a look at what’s being produced on your doorstep. There are the more obvious ones – like cider breweries in Somerset and whisky producers in the Highlands but Cornwall has gin producers, and the midlands has cider so research what you have locally, not only will you be reducing food miles – the distance your drink needs to travel to get to you – but you’ll also be helping out our economy too.

The next way to drink in an eco-friendly fashion is to support the bigger producers that have initiatives to help the environment and there are plenty of these.

Absolut Vodka uses carbon neutral facilities and is aiming for zero emissions, zero waste and 100 per cent recycling by 2040.

Bacardi operate an initiative called ‘Good Spirited: Building a Sustainable Future’. They’ve helped reduce their carbon emissions by 90 per cent and they’ve pledged to stop using plastic all together by 2030.

Bombay Gin have won industry awards for their approach to sustainability. They use a biomass boiler that uses by-products of their production process to power their distillery and are partially powered by hydro energy, which is renewable.

Glengoyne Whisky in Killearn north of Glasgow is powered by renewable energy and it’s partnered with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and are supporting their WWT Can! Campaign to create an additional 100k hectares of wetlands across the UK.

The Discarded Spirits company make vermouth, rum and vodka using waste ingredients from used banana skins to discarded grape skins from wine production.

Sapling Spirits pledge to plant a tree for every bottle sold. Each bottle lists a unique scannable code which tells you what tree was planted and where it lives. The company have planted over 89,000 trees from fruit trees in London to oak trees in Bristol.

Anheser-Busch InBev own brands including Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona, they’ve pledged to be powered entirely by renewable energy by 2025 with Budweiser already entirely brewed using renewable sources of energy.

Carlsberg no longer use plastic rings to hold multipacks together, they’ve developed new snap packs which stick cans together which will save 1,200 tonnes of plastic annually.

Kelloggs cereal have been sending rejected cornflakes to Seven Bro7hers Brewery, a local brewery in Manchester, in order to produce a sustainable beer.

UK brewer Toast Ale make their beer from rejected crusts thrown away from local bakeries too.

What about wine?

We’ve covered spirits and beer but when it comes to wine, going organic means producers have used less chemicals and pesticides in the production process – which may also reduce the impact the morning after! Castello Banfi, a Tuscan wine producer has developed lightweight bottles saving 6,340 tonnes of raw material and millions of kilowatts of energy annually.

Sea Change Wines use renewable plant-based bottle closures and fund sea conservation projects. They’ve raised over €300,000 for marine charities.

Kent cider makers Charrington’s Drinks hand pick all their apples and have the highest accreditation possible for sustainable farming in the UK.

So whether you’re looking at environmentally friendly production, low food miles or supporting local businesses, there are plenty of ways to enjoy your favourite tipple and help the global and local environment too. Every time you order at the pub or pop a bottle in your trolley at the supermarket, always ask how your beer or wine choice could help the environment. I’ll happily raise my glass to that.


The information in this article was correct at the time of writing and is provided for guidance only. Please see the full disclaimer in our terms and conditions.

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