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From Fruit Waste to Good Vodka: Welcome to the Sustainable Party

You hear a lot of stories about the rescuing of dogs or other cute animals like dolphins and turtles, however, have you ever heard of a company that rescues fruit? Well, vodka producer ‘Good Vodka’ thought that was an excellent idea- and they didn’t stop there.

Climate & Science

Vodka and fruit waste.

Seems like an odd couple, but somehow they really make it work.

Indeed, Good Vodka immediately fell in love. They found the perfect way to make good vodka. After all, sugar is gold- ‘you really only need a lot of sugar to make alcohol’ as Mark Byrnes from Good Vodka states.

And where else to find lots of sugar than in fruit sugar (in this case mainly coffee fruit) that was going to end up in a bin?

It all already seems very sustainable. However, as we all know; sustainability is a process.

And Good Vodka wanted to take the extra step. They already use fruit waste as a sustainable product, but now they want to actually measure their environmental footprint and see what else they can do to become more sustainable.

The leftover coffee fruit, used for the sugar for Good Vodka. Making coffee is a process that incorporates many small steps. One of those steps is washing the coffee beans. In this process, the water absorbs a lot of sugar that can be used for the production of vodka.

LCA results & what to do with them

Why do companies calculate their environmental footprint and once you have it, what do you do with it?

Mark Byrne from Good Vodka was very honest with us when we asked him that question:

“Initially we used it for getting investors. We needed proof for what we promised, and our investors asked for that”.

Mark Byrne, Good Vodka

However, as soon as Mark saw the LCA results, he was very pleasantly surprised. The results were much more positive than he thought. 

And what do you do with great numbers? You make sustainable decisions that fit the data.

So did Good Vodka make sustainable choices that fit their data?

“Yes absolutely”– Mark told us. Knowing the scale of their carbon impact, made them much more serious about what they are doing. It also made them insistent that the vodka needed to be widely available and accessible at any price point.

It was important for me that the consumer pays the same price as for normal vodka, and doesn’t need to pay the price for sustainability. This has to be paid for by the company.

Mark Byrne, Good Vodka

Good Vodka is a good example of a spirit company that wants to acts on its environmental numbers and found a good way to do so.

I think the liquor industry is late to the sustainability party. Everybody is engaged with sustainability, but drinks are not really differentiating itself on sustainability. They are all obsessed with scale. They don’t want to change a recipe, or source.

Mark Byrne, Good Vodka

Mark Byrne visiting a coffee plantation in Caldas, Colombia.

How to move forward

Sustainable products are hard to scale.

Good Vodka knows that and they know they will have to sacrifice profits. However, with a smaller margin you can do much more targeted marketing.

Take Oatly for example, they are already proving the concept and the power of marketing. They don’t have an 80% margin either, but they really make it work.

And luckily Good Vodka is full of ideas.

And as the cherry on top, Good Vodka is always transparent about its production of vodka. By doing so they want to send out a message: we make good vodka, and we are a brand that doesn’t have to hide anything.

Our brand is not an alcohol brand, it’s a sustainably packaged good that happens to be made with alcohol.

Mark Byrne, Good Vodka

Interested in reading more success stories of sustainable frontrunners in the spirits industry? Download our first free Frontrunners Report: ‘Spirits of The Future’ for many more insightful stories of companies that are making the spirit industry more environmentally friendly. 

Zazala Quist

Hi, I'm Zazala - former content writer at Ecochain. My goal: make difficult sustainability concepts - understandable to all.

All posts by Zazala