WHISKEY in the BOTTLE and S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y in the BARREL ASSESSING SUSTAINABILITY AT YOUR DISTILLERY WRITTEN BY KURT A. ROSENTRATER, PH.D.
ost of my previous articles have focused on coproducts and byproducts from fermentation and distillation operations, and various options that distilleries may have to simultaneously decrease waste sent to city water treatment systems and add value to their bottom lines. It is true that dealing with byproducts is a critical aspect of any distilling operation — after all, only one third of the incoming grain is converted into alcohol. The rest has to be dealt with in some manner. Many of my previous pieces have discussed using these byproducts as livestock feed. In this article, however, I would like to expand the discussion to include sustainability issues in general, and why your business should consider them. Consumers are increasingly interested in learning about how their products are grown, raised, made or produced. They are reading labels, learning about nutritional content, making informed decisions, and more often decreasing their impact on the planet. Companies in many sectors are responding to consumer behaviors and are changing their business practices as a consequence of heightened consumer awareness. To meet
these demands many are beginning to provide information to consumers about the impacts of their factory production as well as their entire supply chains. When we consider “sustainability” it has become common to look at this concept through the lens of the “Triple Bottom Line” (see figure). The three pillars of sustainability often include environmental, economic, and social dimensions, and to truly understand the overall sustainability of a product, process, or system, we need to consider all three of these components. Environmental sustainability generally is the first to come to mind whenever anyone talks about the concept of sustainability. Frequently, this means assessing your carbon footprint, which entails the CO2 and other greenhouse gases like methane and nitrous oxide emitted not only from your production processes (which are known as direct emissions), but also from the power plants or other power sources that supply your energy (called embedded emissions). Additionally, consumers want to know about your water footprint — in other words, how much water do you use at your facility for
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