Reshaping an iconic bottle without a trace
With glass bottle production representing around half of Absolut Vodka’s climate impact, it is an area of priority in our pursuit of carbon neutrality by 2030. Tina Robertsson, Director of Sustainable Performance at Absolut, explains that several projects are already underway to make our glass manufacturing process even more sustainable.
Absolut’s sustainability work has always focused on energy efficiency. Thanks to that effort, its vodka is now produced in one of the world’s most energy-efficient distilleries, and the climate impact linked to production is minimal. With that in place, the focus has naturally shifted towards areas such as wheat cultivation, packaging, and transportation. “We have moved one step at a time over the past 20 years. After taking care of emissions linked to our production, we started discussions with our suppliers around how they can reduce their environmental impact.”, says Tina Robertsson.
A joint collaboration towards a single goal
Glass is an inert material that is excellent for preserving our vodka – and it can be recycled over and over again. Yet, the production of glass bottles still constitutes most of the emissions linked to packaging and almost half of Absolut’s total climate impact.
With that in mind, a close partnership with the glass supplier Ardagh has always been important, and we share a long history. For over 40 years, Absolut’s iconic bottle has been produced at its Limmared facility – Sweden’s oldest operating glassworks founded in 1740.
The partnership was extended for another 10 years in 2019, ensuring the continuity of a long-term commitment and an opportunity to further reduce the carbon emissions from glass bottle production.
One crucial goal of the partnership – which significantly reduces emissions from production – is to continuously increase the amount of recycled glass in the Absolut bottle. The work has been successful so far; in less than a decade, the share of recycled glass has increased from 36 per cent to 53 per cent. Since the use of recycled glass reduces energy consumption and thus the emissions, it makes a significant difference.
Glass is an inert material that is excellent for preserving our vodka – and it can be recycled over and over again
Tina says:” We managed to reach our target of 50 per cent recycled glass four years ahead of time. Now we’re looking at a revised target and we would like to achieve 60 per cent by 2025. Ideally, that number would be even higher, but recycled glass is in short supply right now.”
Arguably, the most critical effort underway is substituting the fuel used in glass production for biogas and the long-term introduction of hybrid technology.
We have developed a high-level plan together, to reduce our joint carbon footprint and are now looking at the timings to implement different actions. In this work, we also need to take into account the fast-changing public regulations within this area.
Pure vodka in a clear bottle
Absolut’s clear glass bottle with its unique shape has always been a big part of the brand’s identity, so reviewing the glass production must be done with caution. ”Absolut’s original name was Absolut Rent Brännvin, which translates to absolute pure vodka. So ever since we changed our name to Absolut, the clear bottle has been the symbol for our vodka’s pureness and high quality” says Tina. “And since we are determined to really make a difference, we want every change that we make to be verified and scalable to the hundreds of millions of bottles that we sell every year.”
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).