Absolut turns to hydrogen energy

Pernod Ricard-owned Absolut Vodka will become the first global spirit brand to use a partly hydrogen energy-fired furnace to make its glass bottles.

The brand has signed an agreement with Ardagh Glass Packaging in Sweden, part of Ardagh Group, to use a partly hydrogen-fired furnace (20% green gas) starting from the second half of 2023.

Absolut said it marked a major change to the brand’s production across all of its markets worldwide.

The move is described as a ‘significant step’ to reduce CO2 emissions during the brand’s production. Absolut is aiming to become carbon neutral by 2030.

The hydrogen will be produced onsite at Ardagh’s facility in Limmared by using renewable electricity, which will reduce the brand’s carbon footprint by 20%.

Stéphanie Durroux, CEO of The Absolut Company, said: “The glass manufacturing industry is on a transformative journey, and the world can’t wait for the perfect solution.

“A bold and innovative approach is needed to accelerate radical change that will help solve the significant sustainability challenges that all glassmakers and buyers of glass face.”

The move is the latest in the brand’s efforts to become more sustainable. In June, Absolut developed a recyclable and biodegradable cap, and last year it released its most sustainable bottle design to date.

In October 2019, Absolut partnered with The Paper Bottle Company (Paboco) to create a fully bio-based and recyclable paper bottle.

Furthermore, Pernod Ricard has become a member of Glass Futures, a not-for-profit research and technology organisation dedicated to building a global centre of excellence for glass to create sustainable, low carbon bottles.

Richard Katz, CEO of Glass Futures, added: “We hope the trials into new low-carbon fuels and technologies will drive innovations in the glass supply chain and support our members on their journey to net zero.”

Together with glass producer Encirc and Glass Futures, Pernod Ricard’s Irish Distillers arm was part of a ‘ground-breaking’ trial in 2020 that used biofuels to produce more than three million glass bottles from 100% recycled glass for Jameson Irish whiskey, which led to a reduced carbon footprint of up to 90%.

In 2021, Johnnie Walker owner Diageo partnered with Glass Futures for 10 years to ‘accelerate collaboration and innovation in the glass industry’.

Spirits producers are innovating with lighter bottles, alternative materials and new formats.

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Author: Nicola Carruthers