Case

Koskenkorva Vodka's carbon footprint: Packaging and barley cultivation carry the greatest impact

Barley field with barns in a sunrise.

Altia calculated the carbon footprint of Koskenkorva Vodka in 2019. The majority of carbon dioxide emissions during the life-cycle of Koskenkorva Vodka derive from the product’s packaging and from the cultivation of the barley used as an ingredient in the vodka. The energy-efficient Koskenkorva distillery’s proportion of the carbon footprint is relatively small.

The carbon footprint of Koskenkorva Vodka packaged in a glass bottle is 2.19 kg CO2e/litre, while that of Koskenkorva Vodka packaged in a PET plastic bottle is 1.60 kg CO2e/litre.

If these emissions are put in proportion with the common point of comparison – i.e. driving a car – the emission of 2.19 kg CO2e is equal to driving a distance of slightly more than 14 kilometres in a passenger car, while the emission of 1.60 CO2e is equal to driving a distance of slightly more than 10 kilometres.

Packaging materials have a big impact on carbon footprint

Packaging materials have a big impact on carbon footprints. The carbon footprint of Koskenkorva Vodka packaged in a recyclable PET plastic bottle is approximately 27% smaller than that of the product packaged in a glass bottle. The package accounts for 43% of the product’s entire carbon footprint in terms of a glass bottle and 24% in terms of a PET bottle.

The cultivation of the barley used as an ingredient in the vodka is, alongside the packaging, one of the two biggest sources of the product’s carbon dioxide emissions. Barley accounts for 40% of Koskenkorva Vodka’s entire carbon footprint in terms of a glass bottle and 54% in terms of a PET bottle.

Distillery’s proportion of the carbon footprint relatively small

The energy-efficient Koskenkorva distillery’s proportion of the carbon footprint of Koskenkorva Vodka is, at 10%–14%, relatively small. An increase in the use of renewable fuel has reduced the distillery’s environmental impact. The distillery’s own bioenergy power plant uses barley hulls as fuel and produces steam energy for the distillery’s needs. The distillery’s carbon dioxide emissions have halved since the bioenergy power plant started up in late 2014.

Thanks to the bioenergy power plant, the distillery’s use of bio-fuels in energy production has increased from 24% (in 2014) to approximately 60% (in 2018), which has reduced the carbon footprint of Koskenkorva Vodka in a glass bottle by 5% and in a PET bottle by 7%. 

Recycled materials and lighter packages can reduce environmental impact

Altia wants to to reduce the carbon footprint related to packaging. The results of the carbon footprint calculation provide us with important data for this development work. If the proportion of recycled glass in glass bottles can be increased, for example, it will reduce the package’s carbon footprint. 

Heading towards the measurement of emissions throughout life-cycles

A carbon footprint indicates the amount of carbon dioxide emissions generated during a product’s life-cycle. Koskenkorva Vodka is the first product for which Altia has calculated a carbon footprint. The carbon footprint was calculated as part of the product’s broader life-cycle analysis, which reviewed the product’s environmental impact during its journey from a barley field to the retailer (Alko). The calculation also accounts for the final recycling of the product’s packaging. Altia intends to extend the carbon footprint calculation to other products as well, in the near future.

The review of emissions has shifted, to an increasing degree, from mere production to the emissions during a product’s entire life-cycle. Altia has measured the carbon dioxide emissions of the plants for a long time now, and we want to expand the calculation to the product level. The aim is to reduce not only the carbon dioxide emissions of the plants, but of products, throughout their life-cycles. 

The table below shows the impact that different factors have on the carbon footprint of Koskenkorva Vodka (40% vol):

  Koskenkorva Vodka glass bottle Koskenkorva Vodka PET plastic bottle
  amount of emissions, kg CO2e/litre % of total emissions amount of emissions, kg CO2e/litre % of total emissions
Package 0.931 43% 0.386 24%
Barley cultivation 0.866 40% 0.866 54%
Koskenkorva distillery 0.219 10% 0.219 14%
Rajamäki alcoholic beverage plant 0.039 2% 0.039 2%
Transportation 0.049 2% 0.049 3%
Other ingredients/raw materials 0.026 1% 0.026 2%
Distribution to retailer (Alko) 0.001 0% 0.000 0%
End-of-life of packaging 0.056 3% 0.004 0%

The life-cycle analysis and carbon footprint calculation of Koskenkorva Vodka was carried out for Altia by Gaia Consulting Oy.