Velier and Ecospirits are set to revolutionize the spirits distribution chain
We live in a complex ecosystem based on balances and resources, which must be constantly safeguarded in order to secure our future. Global warming, pollution, natural disasters are just some of the consequences of our failure to pay attention to and care for the environment.
In light of these increasingly pressing concerns, Velier and Ecospirits have decided to join forces in the name of sustainability. With the goal of drastically reducing greenhouse gas emissions and waste, Ecospirits introduced an innovative circular distribution system based on the world's first technology designed to eliminate the use of disposable glass for spirits. Founded in 2018 in Singapore by Paul Gabie, today the company is rapidly expanding into markets around the world.
Velier's Luca Gargano commented on the agreement: "I am very proud to be bringing the ecoSPIRITS technology to Italy. Italians have a long and rich history of producing and consuming alcohol, and as consumers they are very sophisticated and always looking for new, unusual products. In addition, the country as a whole is committed to working towards a sustainable future. There is a huge demand for sustainable solutions across the entire industry. EcoSPIRITS's innovative closed-loop technology tackles several waste and supply chain issues, while also providing an elegant way to serve."
ecoSPIRITS Sales Director for Europe Iain McPherson added, "We have long admired Velier's reputation for innovation and quality. Our ecoSPIRITS France partners, La Maison du Whisky, introduced us to Luca, and the rest is history, as they say. Over the past year we've been working closely with Luca and his team, and we couldn't be more excited to launch this platform together. We share a vision of a sustainable future for the Italian spirits market, as well as the skills and resources to contribute to achieving this vision.”
A range of spirits will be immediately available in ecoTOTE™ low-waste containers including Engine, Portofino Dry Gin, Hampden Estate Jamaican Rum, Clairin Communal Rum from Haiti, Yaguara Cachaça and Los Arcos Destilado from Agave.
The basic principle is intuitive: the project is based on Ecototes, shockproof containers featuring an injection-molded plastic exterior and a glass interior, plus two steel supports – all recyclable materials. The result is a futuristic returnable container system backed by cutting edge, sustainable technology. With a capacity of 4.5 liters, each Ecotote is sanitized and filled directly by Ecospirits in semi-automated facilities called Ecoplants, then delivered to customers in place of the traditional bottle crate.
The system allows business owners to choose sustainability without the additional costs this often entails in other industries. The benefits of circular economy make it possible to get rid of low-value, high-impact processes like collecting waste glass, cardboard and plastic and carrying them to a landfill, as well as replacing and cleaning bottles of different, bulky shapes following accidental breakages in the warehouse. Additionally, in terms of environmental costs we must consider that recycling individual bottles is much more complex than one might think, and not as eco-friendly as it might look. The glass of the bottle is not virgin but dirty, so it needs to go through a number of processes before it can be put back into the cycle. Also, the glass must be separated from any paper from cardboard boxes and labels, plastic capsules and packaging as well as any iron staples. All these elements need to be recycled separately and require transport, resulting in significant CO2 emissions. In short, reusing is much more eco-friendly than recycling, and each Ecotote is specifically designed to last for decades without having to be discarded.
Each Ecotote can be used as the bartender chooses - either with a special measuring spout to refill individual bottles with the contents or using a SmartPour accessory, which ensures better pour control and provides ideal support both for pouring straight drinks and in the preparation of waste-free cocktails. A SmartPour can pour volumes of 40 and 50 ml and ensures optimal pour accuracy. The Ecotote clearly shows the original label of the product it contains, so it's certainly possible to pour the required measure for a cocktail without transferring the liquid into a bottle first. However, those who prefer to do so can still preserve the traditional pouring motions and the brand identity by keeping just a single branded bottle on their rack and sustainably refilling it with the contents of the Ecotote. In order to increase the safety and efficiency of the circular process, Ecototes are monitored through a QR code-based tracking system.
The Ecospirits platform is new, flexible and open, and is a perfect example of how technology can coexist in harmony with craftsmanship. The investment required to access this system is affordable even for small producers, who often lack the resources to fund the implementation of sustainable practices used by larger groups. By keeping up this virtuous cycle, the production of high-end spirits will become cheaper, which in turn will also bring benefits for on-trade venues in terms of reduced costs.
In the bigger picture, Ecospirits will contribute to achieving a number of key goals, including a drastic reduction in carbon footprint – that is, the measure of the environmental impact of human activities on climate change. It's estimated that the system will make it possible to reduce the packaging and distribution footprint by around 91%, enabling costumers in bars, restaurants and hotels to enjoy an experience of pure pleasure without worrying about their impact on global warming, and indeed feeling confident they're doing their part by choosing a greener way to drink.
In addition, the impact on logistics will also result in a reduction in the production and handling of glass bottles across the whole distribution chain, from distilleries to bars and finally to disposal facilities. At a time of high inflation driven by energy costs, congested shipping networks, and a shortage of raw materials, this project can make an important contribution towards reducing the industry's dependence on external factors.
Ecospirits also funds reforestation projects to offset the carbon impact of its own hardware production: a tree is planted for each Ecotote produced.
Currently, around 40 billion glass bottles are produced for the spirit industry every year in the world, resulting in 22 million tons of CO2 emissions. The Ecospirits technology can save at least 550 grams of CO2 emissions for each bottle it replaces - 30 grams for each cocktail.
As it slowly recovers from the damage caused by the pandemic, the industry has the very real chance to advance towards a more sustainable future with reduced production costs and CO2 emissions and more ethical consumption choices.
Italy is a country of ancient, fragile cities where sustainable tourism plays a key role, with 94 million foreign travelers choosing to spend their holidays here every year. Additionally, the country's ongoing commitment to fight climate change includes a plan to cut carbon emissions down 60% by 2030 and introducing sustainability as a mandatory subject in school.
By joining this project - already active in France, the UK, Norway and Germany - Italy takes another step forward towards protecting the environment and preserving its heritage.