Pernod Ricard turns to reusable spirits containers in circular packaging partnership

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Absolut, Beefeater and Havana are being used with the ecoTOTE packaging.
Absolut, Beefeater and Havana are being used with the ecoTOTE packaging.

Related tags Pernod ricard Packaging Glass Bottles Sustainability Chocolate

Pernod Ricard and ecoSPIRITS have announced a five year global licensing agreement: which will see Pernod Ricard distribute its top spirits brands in large, reusable containers to hospitality venues.

With ecoSPIRITS, the products are transported in bulk and delivered to hospitality venues in a fully reusable glass ‘ecoTOTE’ container: which is similar in function to a beer keg. Once empty, the packaging is collected, cleaned and refilled with the same spirit. Each container is designed to be used up to 150 times.

This reduces the waste and carbon emissions which typically result from the production and transportation of bottles and other secondary packaging.

Beefeater gin, Havana Club rum and Absolut vodka

Founded in Singapore in 2018, ecoSPIRITS’ tech is available in more than 23 countries across Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas in 2,000 bars, restaurants, hotels and retailers (including Michelin-starred restaurants). 

The company’s mission is to tackle single-use glass in the spirits and wine industry: citing 70 billion bottles produced a year in this industry alone.

So far, the company has found the most interest coming from bars: where spirits are in high demand.

The collaboration with Pernod Ricard builds on a pilot program between the two companies in Singapore in 2022, where Pernod Ricard trialed the packaging with Beefeater London Dry gin, Havana Club rum and Absolut vodka brands.

This pilot helped the companies identify the practical challenges – as well as opportunities – of circular distribution; as well as outlining effective ways to scale up the tech.

Is glass really the answer for sustainable packaging?

The ecoTOTE is the world's first fully reusable glass packaging system for spirits and wine, according to the company.

Individual glass bottles require large amounts of energy to produce and recycling; as well as being heavy to transport (with associated emissions). While recycling bottles is an option, this still requires large amounts of energy.

But in a reusable format, accompanied by a closed loop model, the material is still a good option, Paul Gabie, CEO of ecoSPIRITS, told us. 

"The internal vessel of an ecoTOTE is glass, which was chosen because glass is trusted both by consumers and also by producers of premium spirits and wine," he said.

"Part of the key to the whole value proposition is that the liquid is packaged in glass and will preserve the spirit in the same way that it has been preserved for many years in traditional glass bottle format."

The ecoTOTE has a shock resistant aluminum chassis with a plastic shock resistant enclosure.

An 'ecoPLANT' is created locally to fill, clean and refill containers, meaning that the pack does not have far to travel.

The result? The average carbon footprint of spirits packaging is 550g of CO2 emissions per bottle; that can be reduced by 60-90%, according to a  Comparative Lifecycle Emissions Study performed by Deloitte Singapore.

Meanwhile, packaging costs can be reduced by up to 90%, says ecoSPIRITS.

Havana Club rum is now already being used with ecoTOTEs in its home market of Cuba: with a dedicated ecoPLANT (to fill, clean and refill the containers) at Havana Club’s distillery in San José de las Lajas.

The initiative in Cuba is expected to reduced bottle imports and glass waste, which will translate into an 88% reduction of the carbon emissions footprint related to premium spirits packaging and distribution and a reduction of glass waste by 99%, according to Pernod Ricard’s calculations.

Beefeater London Dry gin, Havana Club rum and Absolut vodka will now be introduced to new markets under the new global agreement, with additional brands from the group’s portfolio to be added over time.

Spirits giant Diageo is also using ecoSPIRITS’ tech with brands such as Gordan’s, Captain Morgan and Smirnoff: with plans to scale the format across 18 markets over the next three years.

Meanwhile, French orange liqueur Cointreau is using the packaging in The Alchemist bars in London and across the UK.

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