Absolut Vodka: the world’s first carbon neutral distillery

Case Studies 19/05/2021

Åhus, a seaside town in the south of Sweden, is the only place in the world where Absolut vodka is produced, perfected and bottled. It is also home to the world’ first carbon neutral distillery and one of the most energy-efficient in the world. In 2013 Absolut’s vodka distillery was awarded carbon neutral certification, and by 2018, BIER hailed it as 60% more efficient that the average distillery. 

What it means to be carbon neutral
Achieving the carbon neutral status still means a lot to Absolut because distillation is an energy-intensive activity. The team have unpicked the whole distillation process and continue to rework their operations with a focus on greater sustainability. Measures include negotiating a 100% renewable electricity contract that prioritises locally generated hydropower; implementing energy efficient systems; ensuring water is drawn locally to reduce carbon footprint; and offsetting their minimal carbon emissions by planting trees. 

Powering up without fossil fuel
Absolut are on track to completely phase out their use of fossil fuels by 2025 with CO2 emissions from production per litre of alcohol distilled already 98% less than the average distillery.

In 2004 the installation of new [distillation] equipment radically reduced energy consumption at Åhus [how?], and since then the energy consumption per litre of Absolut vodka produced has dropped by 45%.  When you consider they produce 100 million litres every year that’s a considerable achievement.

In 2018 they eliminated the use of LPG, although it was a small proportion of total energy used this was a significant step towards phasing out of fossil fuels completely. When team created a new method of using waste spirits to replace the LPG the end result was a double benefit as both CO2 emissions and waste were reduced.

More than 85% of the energy used by the distillery comes from renewable sources, and the main source of energy is EPD certified electricity which is generated by hydropower – a renewable energy source. 

Using EPD certified electricity as a main source of energy reduces emissions considerably but Absolut offset the minimal remaining emissions, through a Plan Vivo certified afforestation and deforestation prevention project. [Plan Vivo certified forest project “Scolel Té”, or “Growing Tree” in Chiapas, Mexico.] 

“Initially, we were focusing on energy efficiency – we have a philosophy that the best energy we use is the energy we don’t use at all,” Absolut’s director of sustainable performance Tina Robertsson

Recycling heroes 
The Absolut distillery sends zero waste to landfill and they recycle or re-use everything possible. 
Waste spirits are recycled as fuel, and a by-product of the fermentation process is used to feed more than 200,000 pigs and cows around Åhus every day.

Everyone at Absolut is focused on making a contribution and even small changes such as switching to LED lighting and optimising pumps and phasing out fossil fuel reliant cars in the carpool  make a difference
All employees take part in environmental training every five years in an expansive programme. covering business priorities and ways employees can make an impact through their own lifestyle choices. 

Trailblazing Brand
A true trailblazing brand Absolut is leading the way for other Pernod Ricard brands by sharing their knowledge and experience. 

Not content with what they have already achieved Absolut continues to reduce the CO₂ emissions both from the distillery and throughout the value chain as they head towards of their 2030 ambition of creating carbon neutral product throughout the value chain. 

There are more ambitious ideas in the offing like [onsite?] electricity generation and energy storage.

As the distillery continues to reduce the burden on the public electricity grid new measures such as generation of electricity and storage of energy are being explored. A key benefit of storing energy is to relieve pressure on the public grid at times when consumption is high, and generation is low.

Absolut will continue to reduce the CO₂ emissions both from the distillery and throughout the value chain to achieve their 2030 ambition of a carbon neutral product. 

Visit Absolut Vodka’s Brand Home in Sweden to learn more


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