Sustainability Spotlight: Georgian Bay Spirit Co.

Posted by Allison Davies | June 13, 2024
Sustainability Spotlight: Georgian Bay Spirit Co.

 

After 10 years of producing high-quality spirits and ready-to-drink beverages, Georgian Bay Spirit Co. recently opened its doors to the public at their Collingwood Distillery for those wanting to stop by, enjoy a free sample, make on-site purchases and pick up some great branded merchandise. Their new location joins a growing list of Collingwood craft beverage destinations. 

Georgian Bay Spirit Co. recently released Canada’s first-ever paper spirit bottle for their new innovative Eco-Friendly Gin. This fully recyclable bottle is 5 times lighter than glass and has a carbon footprint that’s 6 times lower than glass due to its lightweight design that cuts down on transportation emissions. While the gin bottle is their latest sustainable innovation, it turns out that the company has an impressive lineup of sustainable initiatives in place as they pursue their mission to be one of the most environmentally sustainable and eco-conscious distilleries. 


We caught up with Jeff Young, GBSC’s Supply Planning and Sustainability Manager to find out more about the company’s sustainability journey. 


Tell us about your company 


In the 10 years we have been operating, we have not been open to the public until now. It’s exciting to finally open that door. We produce spirits and ready-to-drink cocktails and we’re inviting people to stop by to take a look at what we have to offer. At Georgian Bay Spirit Co., our focus is on making high-quality spirits and ready-to-drink cocktails for everyone to enjoy. The company was founded by long-time friends and business partners, Denzil Wadds and Tim Keenleyside while on a chairlift overlooking Georgian Bay. That’s how our first product, Georgian Bay Gin, was born. The company has planted its roots here in Collingwood and is fueled by a love of the bay, the region and the outdoors. 



RTO7 defines sustainability from 3 pillars: Social, Economic and Environmental. Can you share some of the initiatives you have implemented for each of the 3 pillars?

Georgian Bay Spirit Co. has always been connected to the natural environment. Our founders have been visiting the area for years which provided a lifelong connection for them. We’ve worked with a few organizations in the past with the goal of helping people get out into nature and making that connection with our environment. More recently, we have begun to focus on what we can do internally, specifically, what we can do to clean up our carbon footprint and reduce our use of plastics.
 

 

This year we came out with our Eco-Friendly Gin. It has a paper outside shell with a plastic liner inside. The paper itself is made of 100 percent post-consumer recycled materials. The inside layer and spout are plastic and are recyclable. What’s amazing about the bottle is that it’s 6 to 7 times lighter than glass. That helps reduce our transportation-related emissions in our supply chain. We are the first to produce a spirit in this bottle in Canada and we think it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

 

This year we started learning what we can do as a company to reduce our emissions by working with a company called Radicle. They helped us to understand where our emissions are coming from by performing an audit that led to our Climate Smart Certification. We examined our entire supply chain from where we get our ingredients to when our product reaches the store. From 2022 to 2023 we have been able to reduce our emissions by 10 percent. 


Transportation emissions are one of our main sources of emissions and the paper Eco-Friendly Gin bottle was an innovation we identified that leads to reduced emissions. We are hoping to be leaders in the alcohol industry and are hopeful other companies explore ways they can reduce their emissions as well.

 

Another partnership we have is with Canada’s Forest Trust with the goal to plant trees to sequester the emissions we create. We are not going to solve climate change by planting trees alone but it’s a great natural option to be able to reduce our footprint. Canada’s Forest Trust creates a planting prescription for a specific area so it's not just a row of trees, it's a future forest to help combat greenhouse gas emissions. 


Locally, we are excited to be working with Surf Rider and Georgian Bay Forever. Both of these organizations focus on clean water and reducing waste in our lakes and rivers. As a company, we’ve participated in garbage cleanups nationally from Vancouver to Red Deer to Collingwood and Toronto. 


We are going to continue coming out with innovative ways to become more sustainable for years to come. We believe in continuing to deliver high-quality products while also reducing the impact we have on our environment. 

 


If you were to give one piece of advice to someone starting, what would it be? Is there one small thing that you think any business can do?


It can be overwhelming. I have a personal interest in sustainability and the environment has always been part of who I am. If you are curious about diving into “greening” your company, my advice would be to start with one thing. You’ll get that positive feedback as a business from your customers. It’s about thinking strategically. If you’re reducing your emissions, you’re reducing your costs. We’ve seen a reduction in costs and reduction in CO2 emissions with changes we have made operationally so, it's a win-win.


Get started on one small thing and you’ll see how your company will become a positive difference maker.

Views, thoughts and opinions expressed in the blog comments section belong solely to the comments' authors and are not necessarily those of Regional Tourism Organization 7 (RTO7), its Board of Directors or its staff.

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