Generating energy from waste

Reducing waste is a key focus for us – and for the past four years, we have been using so-called waste spirits to reduce our use of liquefied propane gas (LPG) to generate energy at our Nöbbelöv distillery.

The distillery has a facility that is dedicated to distilling ‘waste spirits’, known as ‘slock II’, which include discarded flavoured vodkas with defective bottles or discontinued products. Slock II spirits must be disposed of without going down the drain, unlike so-called ‘slock I spirits’ which can be directly redistilled and rebottled.

We are currently working on a ‘fusel oil wash’ to separate fusel oil from water

Eva-Lena Ekblad, Process Engineer

Slock II spirits are distilled into ethanol and water, and the ethanol is then used to replace LPG used at the distillery. Since the outset, we have distilled 845,000 litres of slock II and generated 306,000 litres of ethanol used for steam power. And once combined with two other sources of unwanted substances and propanol from the main distillation at Nöbbelöv, we can generate around 20 per cent of the distillery’s steam power. We are currently working on a ’fusel oil wash’ to separate fusel oil (a by-product of the alcoholic fermentation process) from water. If we can reduce the water content of the fusel oil to less than 10 per cent, we can use this too as a source of energy for the distillery.

We used to sell this waste as an affordable organic substance. Now we can make use of it ourselves. Replacing the use of LPG for energy at our facility.

Kerstin Karlström, Production Director

Using discarded spirits in a resourceful and circular way is just one of several initiatives to reduce waste at our distillery. We send almost zero waste to landfill and recycle or reuse everything we can. However, with the high production levels of FY22, we also see an increase in waste, since most of it is related to our production.

Our main by-product of the distillation process, stillage (a protein-rich feed that is excellent fodder for animals) is continued to be used to feed a quarter of a million pigs and cattle in the south of Sweden each year. Mostly we sell the stillage wet, which has a lot of advantages, but this year we have also had to dry some of it.

Recycling waste

Waste spiritis as a percentage of the total energy use in distrillation and bottling of Absolut Vodka.

Waste and by-product generated at
the production of Absolut Vodka
Waste sent to recycling (tonnes)1,314994975
Waste sent to incineration (tonnes) 588144151
Wet stillage sold (tonnes)380,443339,402342,699
Dried stillage sold (tonnes)4,1500233

Download the report

This, and more, is from the Sustainability Report for fiscal year 21/22. It’s available on this site, as well as in PDF form if you prefer (27 MB).