How drinks companies can use their business as a force for good to help fight climate change. By Carlo Hein
With the drinks industry considerably behind in terms of sustainable practices, coupled with consumers increasing preferences to buy from purpose-led businesses; there has never been a more important time for drinks businesses to assess their impact.
At Ramborn, we have a belief in a shared triple bottom line; uplifting people, our planet, and profit, for the benefit of all. We must be the change we seek in the world and business should be conducted as if people and our planet mattered, not just profit.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen the drinks industry come on leaps and bounds with the likes of Arbikie, Freestar and Discarded spearheading sustainability initiatives to drive our industry forward, however, we must continue to move forward at pace in order to have a chance at reaching the 2030 targets for the Sustainable Development Goals.
The impact of alcohol production is by no means insignificant on our environment; with fermentation releasing large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, huge amounts of irrigation employed to keep barley and vines healthy and the widespread use of pesticides having a negative impact on biodiversity.
Our environment is suffering from a devastating loss of biodiversity, which is sadly the catastrophic cost of business as usual in our industry caused by a global shift towards industrial fruit sources. With the UN1 and WHO2 both identifying biodiversity as a key component of the global recovery from Covid-19, as well as the prevention of future pandemics, there’s never been a more important time to build a more sustainable economy. Drinks businesses must assess their impact and design their full supply chain carefully in order to ensure their impact is as low as it can be, implementing circular design principles for production and avoiding damaging industrial plantations.
By challenging the norms since Ramborn was established, and closely assessing our impact, we’ve helped protect and revive nearly one million m2 (954,679m2 to be precise) of richly biodiverse habitat, home to over 5000 species. We’ve also saved 739,510kg of food waste due to our cider production, equivalent to 57 per cent of all the fruit Ramborn has pressed to date. These strategies have helped us become carbon negative, which shows what’s possible, in just four years, when you closely monitor your impact.
It’s not just us at Ramborn who have the belief that fundamentally our businesses should be a force for good, in cider specifically, we’ve identified key trends which are driving our industry towards lowering our impact. We’ve noticed more and more brands focused on responsible production, sustainable agriculture and an increased focus on local provenance. The nature of cider production specifically, means that replanting trees is a crucial part of our responsibility to our planet, something Ramborn are acutely aware of, knowing over 150 local farmers by name in order to help maintain their orchards.
Across the board in alcohol, the ‘no and lo’ movement is gaining traction and we’ve found that our non-alcoholic offerings, both juices and non-alcoholic cider sodas, help reduce our carbon footprint even further by reducing the fermentation we undertake.
Recognised globally, certified B Corporations® (B Corps™) are held to the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. The process should be a consideration for any business looking to get external verification on their sustainable strategies. Being a Certified B Corporation allows businesses to fully evaluate the impact of their business, and gives stakeholders – customers, suppliers, staff, and neighbors – the confidence that businesses are accountable to the highest, most rigorous ethical business standards possible.
By attaining certification as a B Corp™, businesses join a prestigious global movement of progressive activists using business as a force for good, alongside the likes of Ben & Jerry’s, Innocent Drinks and Bruichladdich. For us, the B Corp certification achieved earlier this year, highlighted further the importance of acting local, we work very closely with our own community and local economy with the aim of having a positive social, economic, and environmental impact on our immediate surroundings.
In terms of tangible benefits for businesses, achieving the B Corp status has already given us an advantage when building partnerships with other like-minded and well-established brands in the community to co-develop new products and initiatives.
From what we’ve learnt on our journey to achieve the B Corp certification, I wanted to share the five areas to review when building your businesses sustainable credentials. To make positive sustainable change, you first need to conduct a comprehensive assessment of your practices, to understand what your company already does well, and where there is room for improvement.
These areas below are used in the B Corp assessment tool, a free online assessment developed by the B Lab team, which allows you to benchmark yourself against competitors, set goals to continually improve your impact and learn how to implement new strategies through proven and credible best practices.
The areas you need to review are:
- Governance – review policies relating to your mission, ethics, accountability and transparency
- Workers – look at how you contribute to your employee’s wellbeing
- Customers – how can you improve the value you create for your customers and consumers
- Environment – look at improving your overall environmental impact
- Community – how can you contribute to the economic and social well-being of your community
I’d encourage any business, looking to stay competitive in a post Covid-19 world, to take an active approach in assessing their impact. At Ramborn, we envision a global economy that uses business as a force for good and we believe there has never been a better time to break down barriers and demand more from your own operations. Increasing pressure from policymakers, customers and investors means that change is happening, and drinks businesses need to act now or risk being left behind.
1 UN Environment Programme. (2020, June 5). Time for Nature as World Environment Day shines a spotlight on biodiversity. https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/time-nature-world-environment-day-shines-spotlight-biodiversity
2 World Health Organization: WHO. (2020, June 5). Nature is our Greatest Source of Health and Well-Being. https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/world-environment-day-2020
Carlo Hein is co-founder and chairman, Ramborn Cider Co. Ramborn Cider Co. is Luxembourg’s first cider producer and credited with reviving a tradition that dates back to the Romans. The purpose of Ramborn is to combat the climate crisis while supporting local economies and communities by protecting the natural environment in and around Luxembourg and reviving the culture of cider making.