Bacardi barrel recycling serves up a greener rum

Bacardi is ensuring green cocktails are always on the menu with an innovative scheme to recycle old barrels used in the rum brewing process.

The American white oak barrels that give the spirit its particular flavor are used for about 20 years before they have to be retired.

Now Bacardi Corp. in Puerto Rico has revealed how old barrels are being ground into wood chips that are then spread as mulch for landscaping. The company announced last week that the recycling effort not only was helping to beautify the 127-acre campus of the world's largest premium rum distillery, but also was supplying employees with nutrient-rich mulch that they can use on their own lawns and gardens at home.

"If we didn't recycle, our barrels would eventually go to a landfill, which is not the best option for a small island like Puerto Rico," said Lissette Sepulveda, environmental health and safety coordinator for Bacardi Corp. "Turning old rum barrels into mulch helps achieve our global sustainability goal to return to the environment at least as much as we take away."

The initiative is part of the 152-year-old company's Good Spirited global sustainability program, which commits it to a range of environmental targets to be met between 2017 and 2022.

By 2017, the company aims to halve emissions, reduce water consumption by 55 percent, cut the weight of its packaging by 10 percent and obtain 40 percent of the sugar cane-derived products used to make Bacardi rum from certified, sustainable sources.

Five years further on, the company intends to eliminate waste to landfill at all 27 of its production sites, cut packaging weight by 15 percent and, in an industry-first pledge, use 100 percent certified sustainable sugar cane.

This article originally appeared at BusinessGreen. Bacardi image by Deymos Photo via Shutterstock.com.