Carbon emission in the Tequila industry: something we have to think about

Severe storms, floods, droughts, and wildfires are some of the effects of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activities. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is the scientific group assembled by the United Nations (UN), GHG emissions continue to rise, due to the lack of ambitious plans to reduce them.

Currently, as reported by NASA, the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), an important GHG, are above levels that have not been seen since 3 million years ago when sea levels were higher enough to inundate today’s major cities around the world. Consequently, the global temperature has increased by 1.01 °C since pre-industrial time (1880) and the UN’s scientific group has established that it will reach 1.5 °C if we do not move to a low-carbon economy and society.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed with these facts and think that it is nothing left to do. It is possible that the alcoholic beverage category poses major environmental challenges at global and local levels because while the impact of alcohol consumption on health is well studied, knowledge about the environmental impact of alcohol is limited.

The study Climate impact of alcohol consumption in Sweden says that alcoholic beverages production generates GHG emissions in the range of 0.73 to 2.38 kg CO2e/L (carbon dioxide equivalent per liter). Wine has the highest impact per liter (2.38 kg CO2e/L), followed by spirits (2.07 kg CO2e /L), and emissions from beer are lower (0.73-0.81 kg CO2e/L). This work also highlights the major contributors to the carbon footprint of alcoholic beverages, which are highly dependent on the category. For instance, whereas the brewery process accounts for 2/5 of total emissions from beer production, feedstock and packaging are the major contributors to liquor and wine production. Emissions from packaging in wine and liquor are particularly higher due to the preference for personalized heavy glass bottles.

Despite differences in carbon footprint, large carbon footprint reductions are evident across all alcoholic beverage types; however, realizing this potential may require tailoring solutions and sustainable actions for the different alcoholic beverages. The Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) in collaboration with the Mario Molina Centre developed sustainable actions for the Tequila Industry, considering the greatest contributors to GHG emissions. On average, Tequila at 40% alcohol volume produces 3 kg CO2e/L (2.5 if the transport is not considered, as in the Swedish work). However, feedstock does not play an important role here as it only contributes to 1/10 of the total GHG emissions. On the other hand, the processing of feedstock and packaging is the major contributor, accounting for approximately 2/5 and 1/5 respectively. The use of fossil fuels (mainly fuel oil) and heavy glass bottles are the causes behind those high contributions.

To sum things up, all our consumer choices have an environmental impact, one bigger than others. Therefore, it is necessary to know the carbon footprint of products to make educated choices.

The Tequila Industry should be focused on feedstock processing and packaging that experts approved to be most important to reduce the environmental impact. As a Tequila lover, understanding the carbon footprint of Tequila can help to find the Tequila that has the least possible negative impact on the environment, by using low-carbon fuels and lighter packaging solutions.

It is clear for Buen Vato where to focus to reduce the carbon footprint as much as possible. The paperboard bottle is one of the actions that we implemented to do so, reducing the carbon footprint up to 86%, compared to a conventional glass bottle. Besides, we work closely with the producer to implement actions in the production of the Tequila shortly. All this considered, Buen Vato is here to redefine the way Tequila is made.

References:

NASA, 2022. [Online]. Available: https://climate.nasa.gov/

Hallström, N. Håkansson, A. Åkesson, A. Wolk and U. Sonesson, “Climate impact of alcohol consumption in Sweden”, Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 201, pp. 287-294, 2018.

Mario Molina Center; CRT, “Sustainability Strategy for the Agave-Tequila Production Chain”, Mario Molina Center, 2016.

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