From reducing paper waste to providing consumers with a clear view of a brand’s sustainability credentials, Rachel Badham explores how the latest digital technology can assist sustainability-focused drinks producers and retailers
For drinks brands and retailers, sustainability initiatives are no longer optional. As more consumers look to prioritise sustainability when making a purchase, it is more important than ever that the drinks industry follows suit.
While the implementation of digital technology may not be the first practice that springs to mind when thinking of sustainability initiatives in the drinks industry, it seems the latest tech could be a strong ally to brands and retailers looking to advance their strategies.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Oliver Oram, chief executive of blockchain provider Chainvine, says technology could be pivotal in helping to reduce waste materials during the production and distribution process, particularly when it comes to exporting drinks.
By acting as an immutable digital ledger, blockchain technology has the potential to reduce and even replace the physical paperwork involved in the export of drinks, according to Oram. He even estimates that if blockchain were to completely replace physical paperwork, “15 billion pounds of paperwork could be removed from all trade goods in the UK/EU”, which would massively reduce the number of trees cut down to produce paper.
While it seems that blockchain may have a way to go before its positive potential is truly reached, one of its biggest benefits to today’s market is its ability to offer secure and verified information about a brand’s credentials. As well as providing an alternative to traditional paperwork, Oram says blockchain technology offers “complete transparency” when it comes to sustainability credentials.
With Oram describing blockchain as “completely secure”, the tech can help to ensure the authenticity of sustainability claims, providing drinks retailers with peace of mind when choosing which brands to stock.
Looking beyond production and distribution, brands need to ensure that consumers are educated on their sustainable practices in order to connect with shoppers’ values. But of course, education must be easily accessible to consumers if they are to pay attention to a brand’s sustainability messaging.
Noticing this, Provenance is a digital platform that works to make sustainability credentials more transparent to consumers. It already works with B Corp-certified Calvados producer Avallen, and has plans to enter this space further by partnering with more drinks brands.
Hannah Meyer, head of marketing at Provenance, explains how the platform makes sustainability easily digestible for online shoppers. “We publish evidence-backed sustainability ‘badges’ (called Proof Points) on ecommerce product pages. Every Proof Point comes from the Provenance Framework, an index of 125-plus social and environmental impact claims and certifications.”
Brands working with Provenance can publish their Proof Points on their own website or on retail channels that have also partnered with Provenance, providing ecommerce shoppers with an instant snapshot of the brand’s sustainable practices. Meyer says that by clarifying complex sustainability claims and credentials, Provenance can also benefit retailers who are looking to “reduce the risk of greenwashing”.
For Provenance, the use of verified digital sustainability badges offers a way to keep sustainability straightforward for both retailers and consumers: “When sustainability-minded brands invest time and money into certifications, they tend to get lost in product descriptions or annual sustainability reports.
“Provenance’s Proof Points boost engagement with those initiatives in a way that nudges shoppers to buy in line with their values,” explains Meyer. And as more drinks consumers look to purchase in accordance with their principles, it seems that technology could be the key to guiding shoppers towards the right products.