B Corps in the drinks industry: What you need to know

Kate Malczewski

Kate Malczewski

30 July 2020

You’ve likely heard drinks brands shouting about a little thing called B Corporation certification. Over the past year, companies such as Scotch distillery Bruichladdich, tea producer Teapigs and low-abv brewer Small Beer Brew Co have gained B Corp status, and just this month, Luxembourg-based craft cider producer Ramborn and alcohol-free brewer Freestar joined their ranks. But what does B Corp certification mean, and why does it matter?

In short, B Corp certification is a credential indicating that a business has met the highest standards of accountability, which is determined in part through an assessment of the company’s impact on its workers, its community, its customers, and the environment. The certification is based on the idea that, like governments and nonprofits, businesses should be held accountable for their impact on the world; as such, companies in every industry can apply.

According to the B Corp website, the project’s objectives are ‘to balance profit and purpose’ and to ‘build a more inclusive and sustainable economy’ – goals that seem particularly pertinent as individuals and businesses cope with the effects of Covid-19.

To apply for certification, a company must complete the assessment and verify its accuracy with B Lab, the nonprofit behind the B Corp movement. Once certified, businesses must pay an annual fee and renew their certification every three years; they are re-assessed annually to ensure standards are maintained.

B Corp drinks brands

So how are drinks companies acting on their commitment to B Corp values? We’ve rounded up a few of the UK’s B Corp certified drinks brands to learn more.

Small Beer Brew Co
Based in London, Small Beer specialises in brewing low-abv beers. Its sustainability focus includes the use of renewable energy sources and responsible water management. To act on the latter commitment, the team designed a special brewing kit to reduce water use in the production of its beers. According to the company, most breweries use 8-10 pints of water to brew a single pint of beer, but thanks to the design, Small Beer uses just 1.5 pints of water per pint of beer.

Toast Ale
Toast Ale is a brewery that uses surplus bread in place of one-third of the malted barley in its grain bill, working with large factories to turn the heel ends of their loaves, which would otherwise be discarded, into beer. What’s more, 100% of its profits go to charity.

Alcohol-free beer brand Freestar became B Corp certified earlier this month. Freestar reports that its beer is made through a process that uses 80% less water than industry standards and creates 70% less waste. Through its B Corp certification, it has committed to becoming a business with net zero carbon emissions by 2030; it currently uses 100% recyclable materials as its packaging as part of this mission.

Scotch producer Bruichladdich is one of just six distilleries worldwide with B Corp status. From May of this year, the whisky maker has begun sourcing its electricity through renewable resources in the UK, and it plans to implement renewable energy as its power source for production by 2025. It also emphasises the importance of worker benefits in its efforts, and was certified as a Living Wage Employer last year.

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