Sustainability Hero of the Month: Salcombe Distilling Co.

Posted by
Food Drink Devon
Posted on
4 Nov 2021

Food Drink Devon’s ‘Sustainability Hero of the month’ is Salcombe Distilling Co.!

We asked Howard Davies, Co Founder & Director, to tell us about SDCO’s sustainability credentials.

What have you done to make your business more environmentally friendly?

Protect and regenerate ocean forests – UK 

SDCo. have partnered with the Marine Conservation Society and Champions for Earth to donate 1% of ‘Start Point’, ‘Rosé Sainte Marie’ and ‘New London Light’ UK bottle sales to support the Marine Conservation Society’s seagrass regeneration project. Seagrass meadows account for 10% of the ocean’s carbon sequestration and are hugely important in the battle against climate change.

As part of their mission, SDCo. will protect and regenerate 2m2 of seagrass for every 70cl bottle of ‘Start Point’ or ‘Rosé Sainte Marie’ sold in the UK and a further 1m2 of seagrass for every 70cl bottle of ‘New London Light’ sold in the UK.

Protect and restore ocean forests – USA

SDCo. have partnered with SeaTrees to donate 1% of ‘Start Point’, ‘Rosé Sainte Marie’ and ‘New London Light’ US bottle sales to support their giant kelp forest reforestation project in California. The latest science shows that globally, kelp forests can sequester more carbon than mangrove forests – restoring these sequoias of the sea is critical to solving climate change.

Electric energy from renewable sources The electricity used on site is made from 100% renewable sources. To progress this even further SDCo. are currently investigating the feasibility of installing solar PV at their waterside distillery later this year.

Carbon neutral shipping – on all UK web orders 

All UK consumer orders are dispatched using DPD’s carbon neutral shipping service. For more information on the ways DPD are striving to be the UK’s leader in sustainable delivery, please visit their website here.

Prohibit the use of plastic & evolving packaging – wherever possible 

SDCo. refuse to use single use plastics and prohibit the use of plastic from the product and dispatch packaging. They work hard with several suppliers to find eco-friendly alternatives wherever possible. Here’s some more information about some of the fantastic alternatives:

Dispatch packaging – The industry standard plastic inflatable air packs for shipping individual bottles have been eradicated and replaced with custom made cardboard packaging. Boxes are sealed without the use of plastic tape, but instead using SDCo. branded paper tape. Conventional plastic bubble wrap and polystyrene fill have been replaced with biodegradable starch-based alternatives derived from vegetables, which can go directly in your compost. Supposedly the loose fill is even edible!

Product packaging – SDCo. recently rolled out an alternative to the traditional plastic tamper seals on the neck of bottles; a biodegradable cellulose alternative made from materials such as sweetcorn husks and sugarcane. In addition, they are also working with their suppliers to switch to a stopper made from reclaimed ocean plastics for non-alcoholic spirit ‘New London Light’.

Serving tasters & cocktails – It’s astounding how many spirit brands continue to serve tasters at events in single use plastic tasting cups. SDCo. eradicated these a long time ago and only serve tasters in biodegradable paper tasting cups. It goes without saying that plastic straws are no go, needless to say some cocktails are best sipped through an eco-friendly alternative. All cocktails served at the waterside distillery offer an excellent alternative, a biodegradable straw, produced with a plant-based material.

Gin refill scheme

SDCo. gin refill scheme launched in October 2019, providing a much better solution to recycling and offering an incentive for customers to be rewarded when they participate in the scheme.

Customers can simply return an empty 70cl bottle of ‘Start Point’ or ‘Rosé Sainte Marie’ to the Victuallers, their retail and experience space on Island Street, Salcombe and have it refilled with 10% discount off the retail price.

What would you like to change in the future to improve your sustainability credentials further?

We’re increasingly focussed on waste reduction. There are many areas of opportunity here because of the multiple facets of our business. For instance, starting with our supply chain, we are actively working with our suppliers to reduce the amount of packaging on the goods they provide to us. Where it can’t be reduced, at the very least we ensure that the material used is eco-friendly; e.g., cardboard rather than plastic. In addition to this, as our production volumes grow, so does the amount of organic by-product produced (e.g. spent botanicals from our distillation runs). This is of course bio-degradable anyway which is great, but it may soon be of sufficient volume to go straight to a local business who could use it directly for feed or fertiliser. It would be brilliant to see it reused in such an immediate form if possible. We are very open to ideas from other members here!

Another big area of possibility is around the reduction of our carbon footprint. We have now analysed this for our scope 1 & 2 emissions and are working on calculating it for the final, complex, area of scope 3. Once we have this it will provide valuable insight into where the majority of our carbon footprint is coming from and hence where we can reduce it. The ultimate goal is to become carbon negative. I would like us to do this alongside continued reduction in our footprint to keep this to a minimum rather than just balancing out unnecessary carbon emissions.

What tips do you have for other businesses that would like to become more sustainable?

There is a lot of misinformation out there, and many initiatives which while sounding good on paper don’t really deliver true benefit to the environment. Do take a little time to investigate any initiative or claims a supplier may make before going ahead. Make sure you really believe in it and that there is a strong underlying basis of fact for the sustainability credentials claimed or value delivered.

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