2019’s top sustainability initiatives

Lucy Britner

Lucy Britner

11 December 2019

As the end of the year beckons, we take a look back at some of the biggest and best sustainability initiatives to appear in 2019. From ‘the Bat Man of Mexico’ to cardboard can toppers, going green has never been so popular


With the war on straws well and truly underway, 2019’s sustainability initiatives feature several other plastic-cutting solutions, while supporting wildlife and finding novel ways to use waste produce have also been on the agenda.

Sustainable spirit

First up, in March, surplus table grapes made their way into Hyke Gin. The launch, from Foxhole Spirits, saw a partnership with Kent-based fruit supplier Richard Hochfeld. Foxhole took surplus table grape supplies – the equivalent of 1.4 million punnets, sourced mainly from Africa and South America, that can't be sold in retail outlets – and turned the excess into a grape spirit for making Hyke Gin.

In April, two former Diageo employees announced plans for Avallen calvados. Tim Etherington-Judge and Stephanie Jordan set out to ‘prove that a spirits brand can both be profitable and beneficial to our planet’. A portion of the profits go to helping wild bee populations thrive. The brand also uses blockchain to highlight traceability and back up conservation claims.

From bees to bats and Dr Rodrigo Medellín, nicknamed 'the Bat Man of Mexico', announced plans to recruit bars to the Bat Friendly Program, an initiative he started with the Tequila Interchange Project, to encourage tequila producers to implement conservation strategies to not only help Mexico's bat populations, but increase the genetic diversity of tequila’s raw ingredient Blue Weber agave.

In November, sustainability hotspot Nine Lives in south London announced a new menu, using waste ingredients from bars and local businesses in its nearby neighbourhood, including a mezcal infused with avocado skins.

Beer's war on plastic

Next up, Manchester-based wholesaler WDS Group lined up a recycling programme – called OneCircle – for KeyKegs in the north of England. As most plastic kegs are normally disposed of after use, WDS Group teamed up with KeyKeg producer Lightweight Containers to create a circular programme to recycle basic materials and turn them into new KeyKegs.

Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I went to war on plastic in September, announcing plans to ditch plastic rings on multi-packs. The £6.3m initiative will see plastic rings disappear from can packaging across its entire UK-produced beer range (including Bud and Stella) by the end of 2020.

Then in November, Heineken became the latest brewer to announce plans to cut plastic from its multi-pack cans by replacing it with eco-friendly cardboard toppers. As part of a £22m investment, the company said it will remove plastic rings and shrink wrapping from its entire portfolio of beer and cider multi-packs. Heineken claims the initiative will remove 517 tonnes of plastic annually from the supply chain.

Lastly, we don’t usually blow our own trumpet but in October, Imbibe teamed up with WSET to host a brilliant seminar called Sussing out Sustainability. Key speakers included Ella Shone from Rubies in the Rubble, a condiment company exclusively making use of waste fruits and vegetables, Peter Statham, sustainability manager at Carlsberg UK, Mark Low of Mr Lyan’s Creative Studio and Emma Campbell from sustainably-minded Lanchester Wines.

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