In 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were created and adopted by all United Nations (UN) Member States as an urgent response to global environmental damage and its huge consequences as high temperatures, floods, extreme droughts, species extinction… and the list is long.
This call for action, as it is named by the UN, is halfway, so it was the moment to evaluate its progress. Unfortunately, as it was expected, the results are not positive, according to the General Assembly Economic and Social Council´s report of progress (on May 2023), many of the SDGs are moderately to severely off track and it is necessary to accelerate the implementation of the goals.
Coming back to the route to get closer to the goal in 2030 requires a rescue plan, the meeting calling to make it could be in September, and the commitment of all social actors, not only governments. As an industry, we have a big responsibility.
United Nations (UN). Sustainable Development Goals.
What about the spirits industry?
According to the Mario Molina Centre and the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT), on average, Tequila at 40% alcohol volume produces 3 kg of carbon emissions (CO2e) per liter. The greatest contribution to the emissions comes from the consumption of fossil fuels for steam generation in the production of tequila, followed by the indirect emissions from the production of the glass bottle and the transportation and distribution of the tequila to the consumer. In the agricultural phase, the largest contribution comes from the use of nitrogen fertilizers.
Mario Molina Centre and the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT).
In 2022 Mexico produced 651 million liters of tequila and exported 416 million, which means, approximately, a carbon footprint of 1,953,000 tons of CO2e in total, and 1,248,000 tons of CO2e only for the tequila that was exported.
In Sweden, the monopoly for alcoholic beverages Systembolaget has implemented some initiatives to move us closer to the SDGs. For example, the DKI Dryckesbranschens Klimatiniciativ (The beverage industry’s Climate Initiative), where the participants report in a joint tool to measure, monitor and target their climate impact. Currently, 86% of Systembolaget’s sold volume is reported. The results are shocking. Packaging materials (61%) and freight transport (26%) are the largest emission item for importers of beverages. The situation could look similar in the rest of the world.
DKI Dryckesbranschens Klimatiniciativ.
Buen Vato´s commitment
Buen Vato was born in 2020 due to the necessity of acting right now. Our first focus was to solve two of the biggest problems for the environment in the industry: packaging and transport. That´s why we became the world’s first tequila sold in a 94% recycled paperboard bottle, with 84% fewer carbon emissions per bottle. We also decided to bottle as close as possible to the final consumer, so with this measure and the lighter packaging we reduce 0.52 kg/CO2 per liter of tequila.
To produce our tequila, we consider quality and sustainability. In 2019 we started hand-to-hand work with Destilería La Santa Rosa in Mexico, one of our providers who previously failed three audits of Amfori BSCI, a set of principles or standards that enables companies to monitor, engage, get empowered, and receive support to put sustainable trade at the heart of their business and improve social performance at their supply chain. With our support and more than 1000 hours invested, they finally approved it. So, it´s not a coincidence that Buen Vato is produced in this distillery.
Besides to continue searching for innovative and sustainable packaging options, and monitoring compliance with the code of conduct in the distillery, we plan to lower the impact of the fossil fuels at the distillery by up to 85% using biofuels that came from used cooking oil, right now we are searching for expert support from universities and for suppliers. We also wish to have a circular distillery, reusing our waste as a source of renewable energy, instead of disposing of it in the environment. Is this thinking big? Maybe, but by thinking big Buen Vato is a reality.
And the rest of the chain?
As we said all actors are important to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. For example, as an investor or importer, you can support small producers to implement sustainable practices and better conditions like a code of conduct for their employees, it is a contribution to the industry but also to society.
As a consumer, conscious shopping, not just in the spirits industry, is an important step. In the case of tequila, people traditionally rate tequila because of its raw material, production process, taste, and other parameters that are important, but what about also considering the environmental and social impact?
Luckily there are global efforts to have better results for a better world in 2030, small and big brands implementing Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives and projects, and more informed consumers trying to make better decisions. But the goal is high and requires everyone’s commitment and effort. The rescue plan belongs to everyone.
Mario Molina Center; CRT, “Sustainability Strategy for the Agave-Tequila Production Chain”, Mario Molina Center, 2016.
United Nations; UN. General Assembly Economic and Social Council. Advance Unedited Version. United Nations, 2023.
Dryckesbranschens Klimatinitiativ; DKI. Dryckesbranschens Klimatpåverkan, 2021.