Staying under 1.5C

It has been devasting to see how the world has suffered from severe climate change this year. Extreme weather has seen sea levels precariously rise, coral reefs bleached, heatwaves, droughts, floods, fierce storms and typhoons that have wrecked natural environments, as well as people’s lives and homes. 


It is no surprise that a key takeaway from Cop27 is to accelerate action and reassert the vital importance of the 2015 U.N agreement to keep the average global temperature to no more than +1.5C. 


Since the agreement, G20 states have continued to subsidise fossil fuels to the tune of $3 trillion dollars and the world’s temperature has continued to rise. Currently sitting at over 1.1C from the preindustrial average, global warming has fuelled the 432 ‘catastrophic weather events’ recorded by the International Disaster Database in 2021 (a 21% increase on the yearly average since 2001).


Although political leaders have failed to prioritise this issue, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t time to take action. However, to achieve this goal, global carbon emissions must be reduced by 50% by 2030. 


Reducing emissions is very much in the interest of the drinks industry. It relies on a stable climate. Harvests, crops and vast quantities of land for viticulture have already been ruined in frosts and fires – altering the quality and taste of grapes behind many of our favourite wines. 


So, what can we do?


Circular packaging

Making changes across the supply chain means that we can effectively reduce carbon emissions in our industry. Using circular models that reuse and refill materials is one of the most important steps for drinks brands, something that will become increasingly non-negotiable in Europe as the latest EU legislation sets out stricter rules around packaging.


However, it’s necessary to improve the infrastructure to deliver these schemes. Countries like Denmark prove that it is absolutely achievable to implement successful return schemes but effective cleaning, refilling of bottles and delivery at scale is still a way away in many countries. 


Packaging alternatives 

Different packaging formats previously dismissed for aesthetic reasons are being reappraised for their sustainable credentials, for example, bag in box and the latest Bagnum pouches. 


Alternative formats, such as Frugalpac’s paper bottle and the Packamama recycled PET bottles are becoming more commonplace as the glass industry has been slow to offer effective innovations to solve their high carbon footprint.


Packaging creation and delivery is currently hugely reliant on fossil fuel energy and synthetic (petro)chemical treatment. From factories to transport fleets to bleaching, adhesives and varnishes, manufacturers need to move to renewable energy and bio-chemical alternatives. 


Carbon Offsetting 

Reaching carbon neutral means reshaping how agricultural products are produced, packaged and transported. Yet there are other ways business and brands can offset emissions: from forest conservation and water filtering, to protecting wildlife, the local environment and community. 


While excellent in theory, this has become a very grey area as companies and governments have used offsetting and ‘carbon credits’ to essentially paper over their ongoing reliance on fossil fuels. There needs to be far tighter regulations and measurement of these schemes efficacy to reinstate trust. An evolution of offsetting is carbon insetting, including schemes such as ‘blue carbon’, which actively seek to address how to recapture carbon currently in our atmosphere through algae and ocean eco-systems.


Sadly, the bulk of devastation is being felt in poorer countries who are not responsible for the climate crisis. Therefore, it is important and only right that big businesses invest in the restoration of these communities to counteract the lasting damage of climate change. 



With consumers’ greater demand for transparency, brands will increasingly come under fire if they cannot demonstrate their sustainable credentials and ensure that every element of the package, design and content reflects an effort to reduce, offset and capture carbon emissions. 


The future 

It is imperative that drinks brands recognise that making sustainable choices is no longer a matter of choice or preference. Sooner or later, restrictions will come into place that mean businesses could be at a loss if they are not prepared to take drastic action against climate change. 


A big part of our futureproof program at Denomination is to help brands take actionable steps to meet their goals – realistic and aspirational – and help make better change happen for everyone.