When we established York Gin, we were clear we would create a sustainable business.
We take our responsibilities very seriously - to the planet, to our people and partners, and to our community.
For example, from day one, we have run on 100% renewable electricity generated from the sun, wind and water via SSE Energy's green tariff.
Our aim is that the world is a better place with York Gin in it.
So the environment, local people and charities actually benefit from our existence.
In short, we want to be a 'Net Positive' business.
We are very aware that we are not there yet - but we are making huge efforts, and incremental steps are carrying us closer to our ambition.
As a responsible business, we do our utmost to minimise our impact on the environment.
As a manufacturer, this will never be zero – the nature of what we do means there will be costs to the environment: we use energy to make our gins and on transport, for example.
But what we try to do is to choose the best option for the planet – even when this initially involves more outlay than the alternatives.
We are now working with Sustainable Business Services to find the best ways to achieve carbon neutrality. Here is our initial report - our baseline on which to measure our improvements.
WASTE & RECYCLING
We work with Forge recylcing to ensure we are wasting as little as possible and recylcling as much as possible.
Here is their latest report from July to September 2022. Here is latest waste and recycling report, we know therefore how much more we can do to improve.
Green electricity & electric vehicles
Our distillery and shop both run on 100% renewable power with SSE Energy's green tariff.
This significantly reduces our environmental impact.
Our copper still runs on this renewable electricity - rather than gas power used in many other distilleries.
This reduces our energy consumption as it takes less time to warm up!
Three of York Gin's vehicles are 100% electric and producing zero emissions. Our other vehicle is hybrid.
Any extra financial cost of these vehicles is outweighed by our desire to minimise our environmental impact.
Water saving system
During the cooler months, we use a water management system.
Water cools the gin vapours back down to liquid - previously we had to let this water drain away afterwards.
We re-use this water in a closed system.
We use this system when temperatures allow - and we are developing this to work during the summer months, too.
Watch this space.
Sustainable and plastic-free
Our bottles, labels and packaging are 100% plastic free and made sustainably in Yorkshire.
The new bottles launched in summer 2021 are made by Allied Glass in Leeds - with 20% less glass than the previous bottles. The 20-mile journey compares very favourably to the previous 600-mile trip from France.
Sustainable companies The Label Makers and Packaging Answers are both based in Yorkshire. Just Paper Bags are actually based in York.
We are involved in discussions with our suppliers about how they can remove plastics from our supply chain.
Our neutral grain spirit is produced in Yorkshire from grain grown on Yorkshire farms.
Alcohol and bottles are the heaviest materials we use, so buying local has a massive effect on our carbon footprint.
Other local suppliers include:
- York upcyclers PurePallets who reuse old pallets and railway sleepers to fit our shops and for several York Gin products
- The Star Inn makes the sugar syrup in our Old Tom gin using Yorkshire ingredients
- We sell locally-made alcohol-free 'gin', rum from Leeds and Yorkshire whisky from Filey
- Yorvale make gin ice cream and Bessies Yorkshire Preserves make gin and grapefruit marmalade
Re-use and recycle
We have an agreement with Forge Recycling who take all our waste from the distillery with zero going to landfill.
They produce a monthly report detailing the CO2 emissions produced by converting waste to energy - and offset this with a tree-planting scheme.
From the shops, cardboard waste goes to Friends of St Nicholas' Field - a York environmental charity.
Non-recyclable waste goes to Forge Recycling.
We encourage customers to re-use and upcycle a supply of used bottles on display in our shop for a small fee which goes to one of our charities.
As well as our environmental responsibilities, we take our social responsibilities very seriously too.
So we pay all our team at least the Living Wage, we support charities and local community groups, our ingredients are sourced ethically, and we discourage excessive drinking.
The local community
We are committed to supporting the local community. Our two official causes are:
St Leonard's HospiceWe support our local hospice with financial support and promotion on our social media channels. In 2020, we supported their fund-raising efforts to celebrate their 35th birthday by creating a limited edition of 350 special edition bottles. These sold out very quickly and raised a four-figure sum for the hospice.
York Cats ProtectionWe support York Cats Protection by providing an annual financial contribution, promoting the adoption of difficult-to-home cats on our social media channels and by offering a York Gin mini bottle to all adopters, to toast their new feline family member.
Other local causesWe are inundated with requests for help, and we really do try to help any reasonable requests from organisations in the York area - with raffle prizes, sponsorship of sports teams and fund-raising gin tastings. We have helped countless causes – and we are delighted that we can help!
York City FCWe started our sponsorship deal with York City FC with a special fund-raising run of London Dry (pictured) to mark the closure of their home at Bootham Crescent. This raised over £1,000 for the brain injury association, Headspace.
Living Wage Employer & ethical sourcing
Our mantra is to treat everyone in a courteous and respectful manner.
We are a Living Wage employer – paying all our staff over and above the Living Wage.
The company who source our botanicals - Beacon Commodities - is well-known for its ethical approach to business. They source responsibly only from known suppliers, and they deal directly with growers, collectors and processors - removing the middleman.
Regular trips to meet suppliers mean they can ensure an ethical supply - they see with their own eyes the farming and employment practices being used. Their close relationships and expertise in farming methods also help to solve harvest problems that are becoming more regular with climate change.
As the manufacturer of very strong alcoholic drinks, we have a responsibility to discourage the abuse of alcohol.
So, we ensure that we do not in any way, shape or form glorify excessive drinking of alcohol.
All our gins are ultra-premium in quality - our consistent message is to choose quality over quantity:
'Don’t drink more – drink better.'
The price points of our gins ensure that they are out of reach of the demographic most likely to abuse spirits too.
Helping to reduce waste
We work with a brilliant organisation called Too Good To Go. Their mission is to cut down on food waste. The excess food from pubs, cafes, supermarkets goes into ‘Magic Bags’ sold through an app at a big discount (the contents always change depending on what is left). The food businesses recoup some of their losses, customers get to enjoy great food at a big discount - and food waste goes down. We encourage all our partners to get involved in this fantastic scheme - it really is a win, win. Big companies involved include Costa, Morrisons and Pret. We'd love the small food and drink businesses in our network to join the movement. toogoodtogo.co.uk