Bacardí, the world’s largest family-owned spirits company unveiled plans October 21 to put the world’s most sustainable spirits bottle on shelf by 2023.
The new 100% biodegradable bottle will replace 80 million plastic bottles — 3,000 tons of plastic — currently produced by Bacardi across its portfolio of brands yearly.
Bacardi credits the breakthrough to a “close collaboration” with Danimer Scientific, in particular the bioplastic vendor’s Nodax PHA, a polyhydroxyalkanoate biopolymer that’s derived from the natural oils of plant seeds such as palm, canola and soy.
A typical PET bottle requires more than 400 years to decompose, while the new spirits bottle made from Nodax PHA will biodegrade in a wide range of environments after 18 months disappear without leaving behind harmful microplastics. These include compost, soil, freshwater, and sea water.
Bacardí rum will be the first spirit to appear in the new bottle, before the plant-based material is rolled out to replace single-use plastic across the entire Bacardi supply chain and the company’s 200 brands and labels including Bombay Sapphire Gin, Grey Goose Vodka, Patrón Tequila, Martini Vermouth, and Dewar’s Scotch Whisky.
Ned Duggan, Senior Vice President, Bacardí rum, said: “Over our 158-year history, Bacardi has always believed in respecting the world’s natural resources and acting responsibly, from the sustainable sourcing of our sugarcane to the water and energy used to make our rum. We’re now excited to be pioneering this new biopolymer technology for the benefit of all Bacardi brands and the entire spirits industry.”
Jean-Marc Lambert, Senior Vice President, Global Operations for Bacardi, said: ‘When we set ourselves the goal of being 100% plastic free by 2030, we knew that it would take ground-breaking advances in packaging design to make it achievable, and that’s exactly what’s happening through our partnership with Danimer.’
Bacardi is also creating a sustainably sourced paper bottle. By integrating the Nodax PHA polymer, this alternative solution will have equally strong environmental credentials while ensuring the quality and taste of the spirit inside a bottle made of paper is as exceptional as one made of glass.
Closure was a big part of the solution.
The Bacardi Packaging Development team will also crack one of the beverage industry’s longest-standing plastic problems — the plastic lining of bottle closures.
“It may sound small,” says Jean-Marc, “but add that up across every bottle produced globally and we’re talking many tonnes of plastic every day. Once we’ve fixed the problem, we’ll be open sourcing the solution for the entire industry to use. This isn’t about competitive advantage, it’s about doing the right thing for the planet.”
The company has also committed to removing all its non-essential, single-use plastic, including all plastic gift box materials and plastic point-of-sale materials, in the next three years.
Nodax PHA was verified as a truly biodegradable alternative to petrochemical plastics by the University of Georgia (UGA) and the UGA New Materials Institute in a 2018 study. Danimer Scientific currently uses the material for a wide range of applications, including thermoformed trays, drinking straws, flexible and multi-layer film packaging, coatings, disposable cutlery, and more.
“Nodax PHA is one of the most promising eco-friendly materials in the world today because it delivers the biodegradability that consumers demand without losing the quality feel they receive from traditional plastic,” said Scott Tuten, chief marketing & sustainability officer at Danimer Scientific. “The material provides the best of both worlds, and we look forward to working with Bacardi and incorporating PHA into their iconic packaging.”
In 2016, Bacardi led the drinks industry by committing to eliminate all single-use plastic straws in its cocktails. And two years ago, it began a collaboration with the Lonely Whale Foundation to remove single-use plastic straws from bars and restaurants. Danimer Scientific’s use of Nodax PHA to create the world’s first completely biodegradable plastic drinking straw in 2018 has complemented these initiatives to help reduce the global impact of plastic waste.
More information about Bacardi’s plans to become the most environmentally responsible global spirits company is available here.