Founded in 2014, Colorado’s Marble Distilling Co. has been called the most sustainable distillery on the planet. All water and energy used to create its portfolio of whiskey, vodka, and liqueur, is reused, saving 1.8 billion BTUs and 4 million gallons of water annually. 

Marble’s founders, Carey Shanks and Connie Baker have spoken at length on the financial returns of operating a sustainable distillery, and Baker was recently named the first craft representative on the DISCUS Environmental Sustainability Committee. Below is an explanation of how their sustainable practices have strengthened connections with consumers and the role they’re playing in furthering the sustainability movement within the industry. 

What eco-friendly or sustainable practices does your company use?

We have a first-of-its-kind Water and Energy Thermal System (WETS), which saves over 4 million gallons of water a year and recaptures 1.8 billion BTUs of energy.  Marble is 65% solar-powered and plans to be net-zero electricity by the end of 2022.  

We are zero waste in the production facility and only use sustainable/compostable products in our tasting room and luxury inn above the distillery. Suppliers are asked for their sustainability information when requesting bids, and this information goes into the decision-making process.

What was your approach to sustainability when you first started your brand and has that developed over time?

Marble started at the premise of zero rather than working toward zero in 2014 when beginning design and construction. Every aspect of our business in the tasting room, inn, and distillery was developed, sourced, and now operates with sustainability as a consideration for decision making. Since production began in 2015, we have been looking at our data and tweaking our sustainability initiatives to lessen our carbon footprint.

How do you measure the impact that your sustainable practices have made?

Marble is a week away from releasing a comprehensive sustainability report and scorecard that may assist other craft distilleries, should they wish to enhance their sustainability measures.  We speak regularly at industry conferences, [encourage] consumers to “Drink Sustainably” and share our data with other distilleries to inform how they can make decisions to improve sustainability measures.  We review our scorecard annually and implement process changes to improve our measures.

How do you communicate your sustainable business practices to partners and consumers?

Talking, Talking, Talking.  We also have a bottle-necker, but realize it is hard to tell a sustainability story of our magnitude on a store shelf, so we added a QR code for those who would like to learn more about how Marble is “Saving the Planet One Bottle at a Time.”  Our website also includes our sustainability information.

What are some of the impacts your company has seen from being sustainability-focused?

We believe today’s consumer “votes with their wallet.”  We have heard from those on tour at our distillery or at on & off-premise locations that they will purchase our products based on an alignment with their ethos.  We also have toured over 50 distilleries that have sought information from Marble – they are excited to learn new sustainability measures.  We partner with over 100 environmental non-profits to inform their sponsor/donors/constituents how to “Drink Sustainably” and the market is listening.

What sustainable practices would be the easiest for a beverage brand to begin adopting today?

Only use compostable or sustainable products for tastings and events — super easy!  Work with neighbors on consolidated shipping loads — saves money for all!  Educate your team on why water savings will save the world. Every little bit helps!  Keep thinking!

What are some sustainability misconceptions you’ve come across running your business?

That greenwashing is all bad. Although not transparent, it brings awareness to the consumer and the problem.

What do you think the industry at large can be doing better when it comes to sustainability efforts?

Marble is very impressed with the Sustainability Committee that DISCUS has developed.  They have identified and created awareness, education opportunities, and resources for both the craft and larger distillers. Thanks to DISCUS for taking this very important step and continuing to work with all in the industry for change–it’s in the air!

What are your plans for 2022?

Marble will be reviewing its 2021 sustainability “scorecard”, determining actionable items, and implementing additional sustainable measures while looking at all options to do better and become net-zero as soon as possible.  We have a 2022 goal of being net-zero electricity by EOY 2022.