Proof & Co unveil ecoSPIRITS, an eco-friendly solution to spirits packaging

by: Nik Addams
19 Mar 2020

Here’s a newsflash: the production of one regular sized glass bottle for alcoholic spirits creates around 550g of carbon emissions. Multiply that figure by around 40 billion, given that that’s roughly how many glass spirits bottles are produced around the world each year, and, all of a sudden, Mother Nature isn’t looking too pleased.

Proof & Co Ecospirits – featured image (Ecotote line-up)
The handsome green Ecotote vessels help bars' sustainability ratings and bottom line.  

Enter ecoSPIRITS, a pioneering new solution to spirits packaging and distribution. The brainchild of Singapore-based spirit distributors Proof & Company, the system aims to, per Proof & Co CEO Paul Gabie, speaking to our friends at DRiNK Magazine, ‘reduce the overall impact of a spirit’s supply chain and lifecycle from field to glass to landfill, and find efficiency from a business perspective’. 

Three years in the making, the ecoSPIRITS system, which officially launched in February, has already been rolled out across high-profile brands and venues across the region, including Four Seasons – who have committed across their entire APAC portfolio – Maximal Concepts, Soho House Hong Kong, and Singapore institutions Raffles Hotel – who now run their high-volume signature Singapore Sling on ecoSPIRITS – and the award-winning bar Atlas. The 2019 Wonderfruit Festival in Pattaya also partnered with ecoSPIRITS and Plantation Rum, eliminating the need for more than 2,000 glass bottles over the weekend-long event.

Proof & Co Ecospirits – Ecotote1
The Ecotote's stackable design makes it a back-of-house space saver.

So, how does it all work? At the heart of the ecoSPIRITS system is the ecoTOTE, a reusable vessel that carries 4.5 litres of spirits. At Proof’s specialised, small-footprint facilities, spirits are safely and hygienically processed from a distillery’s intermediate bulk containers and into an ecoTOTE. These handsome green vessels are then shipped to bars, who fill their own bottles straight from their ecoTOTE – once empty, they’re sent back to the lab, where they’re cleaned, sanitised, refilled and refitted with tamper-proof sealing, before being redistributed in the local market. And with the technology development and industrial design all taking place in Singapore, where the first patent was also filed, ecoSPIRITS is a proudly ‘made in Asia’ system.

Proof & Co Ecospirits – Ecotote interior
Ecototoes are easy to refill and resuse.

For such a pioneering technology, it’s perhaps a surprise that the idea of a sustainable, closed-loop system for spirits actually has its roots in history. Before the second industrial revolution, when the beginnings of mass production allowed for cost-effective manufacturing of glass bottles, spirits were (sustainably) moved around the world in reusable casks, often large-format containers that bartenders used to refill their own bottles.

However, unlike their more cumbersome 19th century counterparts, the ecoTOTE is ergonomically designed, shock-resistant, and not too heavy for handling. This design not only minimises the risk of breakages, but also eliminates as many as 1,000 single-use glass bottles over an Ectotote’s lifespan. The design of the ecoTOTE is stackable, too, and can reduce up to 70 percent of back-of-house storage in some cases. 

Proof & Co Ecospirits – Plantation Rum Ecotote
Plantation Rum rece

While the ecoSPIRITS system was initially imagined to reduce single-use glass, cutting down waste and carbon footprint, it also offers better bang for a bar’s buck. Not only does the stackable design allow for more efficient delivery to venues, but, with up to 70 percent of the base cost of spirits related to supply chain – think labour, packaging, and logistics – ecoSPIRITS offer venues better quality liquid for a similar price point, or, the same spirits at a better price. While F&B operators often absorb the higher costs associated with making their venues more sustainable, ecoSPIRITS, says Gabie, ‘innovat[e] the cost structure to offer the industry an opportunity to upgrade and protect the environment. It’s a rare case where it’s a win for all involved’.