Altia leads the way in glass recycling in St. Petersburg

Altia’s Zero Waste sustainability programme, which is central to the Koskenkorva Vodka brand, has proven successful in St. Petersburg, Russia. In 2020, the programme will be expanded to Moscow. As part of the programme, Altia recycled 43 tonnes of glass bottles collected from client restaurants and bars in 2019. 

According to Altia’s Export Director Pontus Forth, sustainability and the related emphasis on recyclability are at the very core of the Koskenkorva Vodka brand. Altia had been looking for ways to increase its visibility in relation to environmental responsibility in different countries and markets. In Russia, this led to the Zero Waste programme being introduced in St. Petersburg in cooperation with distributors.

“The first phase was to launch a recycling scheme for glass collected from client bars and restaurants. The lack of a functional recycling system has been a growing issue in Russia, and it is not possible for bars and restaurants to take care of recycling on their own even if they want to. Altia and its distributors wanted to take action and lead the way in developing a recycling scheme”, Forth explains.

Massive interest towards the Zero Waste programme

When Altia presented the idea in St. Petersburg, it was well received. In fact, the interest in the programme by bars and restaurants was so massive that it was not even possible to include all the eager participants at first. The goal was to get the logistics for recycling under control first.

Altia is committed to collecting both its own and competitors’ bottles from the bars and restaurants taking part in the programme. For bars, the recycling scheme is a huge relief, as they do not need to worry about getting rid of glass waste or pay for its disposal.

“It was pleasant to market the Zero Waste approach to bars and restaurants, because it matched their thinking as well. They had also been working on ideas to reduce waste from their operations, as well as their carbon footprint”, Forth says.

43 tonnes of glass for reuse

The collected bottles are taken to a recycling company operating in the St. Petersburg area. The company then reprocesses them into recycled glass. Last year, Altia collected approximately 43 tonnes of glass for reuse.

The Zero Waste programme also includes other measures to reduce waste. Bars are being trained to prepare new cocktails consistent with zero waste thinking. For example, they are being taught to use the cocktail ingredients in a way that minimises waste.

“Likewise, there is also an effort to reduce the use of single-use supplies such as coasters and straws and move towards wooden coasters or washable straws”, Forth continues.

Encouraged by the positive results achieved in St. Petersburg, Altia is expanding its Zero Waste programme to the Moscow area in 2020.