Sustainability in the Distilled Spirits Industry

Environmental Sustainability Best Practices

By the nature of our agriculturally based products, the careful stewardship of the environment and natural resources is essential for the U.S. distilled spirits industry. Sustainable environmental practices are critical to the continual production of the high-quality products that spirits consumers enjoy. The industry’s goal is to maximize resource utilization and eliminate waste at every step. It’s why we’re dedicated to sustainable best practices – efficiency matters, and from field to bottle, every drop counts.


Land Stewardship: Ethanol, which eventually becomes the finished distilled spirits product, is produced from various crops that have specific soil and footprint needs, and producers take these factors into account when evaluating land suitability. Needs for agricultural additives such as fruit, herbs, and spices are similarly evaluated. Producers plan carefully to reduce impact on local ecosystems, to make better use of soil nutrient availability and reduce fertilizer use, and to maximize crop yield through spatial efficiency and planting methods.

Responsible Water Use: Innate facility design and irrigation methods make for efficient use and re-use of local water resources in crop growth and production. Minimum fertilizer use is encouraged to reduce impact on waterways. Wastewater is thoughtfully managed and even reused in some cases.

Energy Reduction: When possible, facilities employ renewable energy sources, such as hydroelectric and solar power, to maximize the use of an environment’s natural renewable resources. Investing in new equipment and energy-saving technologies reduces the amount of energy used in ethanol production.

Circular Material Syncing: Producing distilled spirits affords many opportunities to reuse valuable resources. Spent grain from distillation can be provided back to farmers as a nutritionally-rich food source for animals. Water byproducts from the distillation process can be stripped of organic matter, then reused in irrigation for new crops.

Waste Reduction: The industry’s dedication to the reduction of plastic and single-use products and packaging is paramount to waste elimination. Producers and manufacturers aim to exceed mandated waste reduction efforts with an end goal of zero-waste generated.

Evaluating Transport Burdens: In order to alleviate greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), producers take steps to reduce the burden on transportation systems. Domestically, increasing truck fill rates reduces vehicle time in transit. Internationally, ocean freighters can also increase container fill rates to reduce their carbon footprint. Low-sulphur and Compressed Natural Gas fuel types are encouraged to reduce carbon emissions.

DISCUS and ENERGY STAR launch survey for upcoming Energy Performance Indicator benchmarking tool

DISCUS is partnering with EPA’s ENERGY STAR program to develop energy-saving tools and resources for distilleries, including a new Energy Performance Indicator (EPI) benchmarking tool, which will enable distilleries to secure ENERGY STAR certification for production facilities and this can lead to cost savings for distillers like you.

In order for the benchmarking tool to work as intended, we need to understand how a variety of production facilities operate in different conditions and climates across the country to help distillers understand how their facility compares to others of similar size and operation.

Ultimately, your ENERGY STAR score generated by the EPI benchmarking tool will enable you to quickly understand and communicate your facility’s energy performance, identify energy waste to target for cost-saving improvements.  In return, this can earn recognition for top performers through a public-facing ENERGY STAR certification. This can ultimately be helpful for brand marketing and attracting new customers.

Please take a moment to complete the survey!

DISCUS recently hosted a webinar outlining the importance of this initiative and is standing by ready to help if you have any questions.