Environmental impacts of alcoholic beverages’ supply chain

Alko together with the Nordic Alcohol Monopolies commissioned a life cycle analysis of alcoholic beverages.
The life cycle analysis of alcoholic beverages was made by 2.-0 LCA Consultants, Denmark in 2015. The purpose of the study was to document the total environmental impact of the product portfolio of the Nordic Alcohol Monopolies, expressing the environmental impacts in monetary units, in addition to the underlying physical units. The analysis was based on the volumes of alcoholic beverages distributed by the Nordic Alcohol Monopolies in 2014 and covers product categories of wine, beer and distilled beverages.

The largest contributing life cycle stages, contributing more than half of the total impacts, are:

  • Packaging manufacturing – especially glass. This is partly alleviated by efficient recycling in the Nordic countries
  • Agriculture fuel use
  • Production – especially breweries and distilleries

The study covers worldwide supply chain of alcoholic beverages and based on it the potential differences between producers are likely to be more important than differences between countries.

Alko uses these results to improve its environmental strategy of responsible purchasing. The summary of the study and the original full study report can be found on the right margin on this page.

Environmental impacts of wine packaging

In the spring 2018 Alko commissioned a study on the environmental impacts and carbon footprint of different wine packaging types. Based on the study by Gaia Consulting Oy, a Finnish consulting company, the bag-in-boxes, beverage cartons and wine pouches have the smallest climate impacts per a liter of wine. In bottled wines the most climate friendly packaging type is a PET bottle.

Gaia Consulting calculated the CO2e footprint based on different wine package types in the assortments of Alko, Systembolaget (Sweden) and Vinmonopolet (Norway). The calculation includes only the load from the production of the packages. The other background information used were the wine production countries and their respective sales volume in 2017, based on which the average emissions for each packaging material were calculated. 

In addition to CO2e emissions, wine packaging materials and development in that area were studied in terms of recyclability and trashing. Alko is especially interested in 

  • Recycled material, rPET in particular, and other light weight and easily recyclable materials like aluminum
  • Totally new, environmentally friendly material innovations
  • Sustainability certifications for product packaging and packaging materials. 

From the ongoing plastics and littering discussion’s perspective it is crucial to continue improving the functioning of recycling: 

  • Deposit system
  • Replacement of problematic combinations (e.g. PET bottles with metal closure) with better solutions (e.g. PET bottles with PET closure) 

Emissions caused by heavy glass bottles are multiplied in logistics. This is a topic that will also be studied in the near future. The packaging study can be found on the right margin on this page.

A further study by Gaia Consulting in 2019 assessed the carbon footprint of aluminium packaging. Unlike in the earlier study, the carbon footprint was calculated based on external data rather than data based on the selections of the monopolies, as aluminium plays a very minor role in wine packaging. For that reason, this is mentioned separately in connection with the research results. Read the final report on the aluminium packaging study.

Wine package carbon footprint calculator

On this page you can find an easy-to-use calculator to understand the CO2e impact of either a single product or an entire product portfolio. The calculator has been developed for the use of both suppliers and producers.

Download the Wine package carbon footprint calculator (.xlsx) >>

The Supplier's emission calculator helps to estimate carbon dioxide emissions

Alko and Gaia Consulting have built a Supplier’s emission calculator that can be used to assess and optimise carbon dioxide emissions. The Supplier’s emission calculator is created based on the model created for Alko's climate impact study 2020.

The calculator enables you to assess the CO2 emissions caused by the production of your products and their packaging as well as transportation. The tool can be used to calculate the annual emissions of your entire portfolio or inspect and compare the carbon footprints of individual products, for instance.

The Supplier’s emission tool is based on the carbon footprint of products standard (ISO 14067:2018) but it does not meet the standard's criteria for calculating product's carbon footprint or communicating carbon footprint to consumers. The calculation uses average emission factors for the production of different beverages and packages, and only takes fossil CO2 emissions into account. Calculator produces coarse results for the carbon footprint of products.

Download the Supplier's emission calculator (.xlsx) >>

Environmental impacts of alcoholic beverages as distributed by the Nordic Alcohol Monopolies 2014 study report.
Summary of the study of the environmental impacts of alcoholic beverages as distributed by the Nordic Alcohol Monopolies 2014.
The study on environmental and CO2 footprint of wine packages