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Smirnoff Combats Glass Waste With Recycling Initiative

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Combatting improper glass disposal is a significant part of liquor distributors’ sustainability plans. Some of the biggest alcohol producers recognize the importance of reusing and recycling bottles. Glass is one of the most recyclable materials in the world, and it’s imperative to keep it out of landfills. Smirnoff Vodka is teaming up with recycling associations to explain why beverage makers need to use more recycled bottles.

The company partnered with Don’t Trash Glass (DTG), a recycling awareness campaign through the Glass Packaging Institute and GlassKing Recovery & Recycling. More than 300 Chicago-area restaurants and bars are participating in this initiative. DTG collects discarded liquor bottles and sends them to Smirnoff’s packaging plant in Plainfield, IL. They are recycled and used in the spirit maker’s signature vodka container, along with its line of malt drinks.

According to the institute, glass is 100% recyclable, and receptacles can be used many times without dropping in quality.  

Even in manufactured products, there are ready-to-use compounds like sand, soda ash, limestone, and cullet (furnace-ready glass). A bottle can be heated and made into different items.

Recycling glass has a domino effect. A used bottle can be cleaned and refilled, and recycled glass can substitute 95% of raw materials. If contaminated, they can be used to make fiberglass, jars, tile, and filtration. Reusing it cuts down on emissions and energy consumption from production.  

Photo Courtesy Lacey Williams

This recycling campaign couldn’t be done without the help of GlassKing Recycling’s consulting. Using data analysis, the firm can create a tailored plan for businesses looking to discard the material. The company can help a business in many ways, whether it’s beverage bottles or automobile glass. 

“We’re thrilled to be partnering with Smirnoff on this initiative, a brand that clearly values sustainable practices and bettering our communities for future generations,” beamed Rose King, chief operating officer of GlassKing Recovery & Recycling.

“This partnership with Smirnoff helps support educational and relationship-building opportunities with local restaurants and bars so they can be at the forefront of glass recycling,” said Scott DeFife, president of the Glass Packaging Institute. “Encouraging these businesses to be influencers within the glass recycling process will have long-lasting effects, not only on our environment but also on the glass manufacturing and supply-chain process.”

Photo Courtesy Andrew Seaman

There’s a big glass recycling problem in the U.S. The Environmental Protection Agency says as of 2018, about 40% of beverage bottles were recycled. Smirnoff, the Glass Packaging Institute, and GlassKing Recycling hope to increase that number.

By creating a circular packaging chain, the vodka maker saves money on production costs while reducing waste. Chicago is the test city, but this initiative can be applied to multiple areas. 

“When it comes to the environment, the way we can all help the planet is by doing our part to better our communities, and Chicago is just the beginning for Smirnoff,” said Ed Pilkington, chief marketing & innovation officer at Diageo, Smirnoff’s parent company. The table is set to enact this campaign in other cities. 

Speaking of Diageo, they have grand sustainability targets. According to the company’s ESG page, Society 2030: Spirit of Progress is a 10-year plan to “create a more inclusive and sustainable world.” The conglomerate has pledged to use entirely recyclable packaging, reduce water use by 30%, use renewable energy for production, and establish 150 community water projects across the globe. 

“We have a track record of setting ambitious targets, and our Society 2030: Spirit of Progress plan is no different. The power of the ambition has a mobilizing effect on our people and is a catalyst for innovation,” said Ewan Andrew, president of Diageo’s global supply chain and procurement and chief sustainability officer.


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