Spirits maker Beam Suntory plans to invest more than $400 million to expand production at its Booker Noe distillery in Boston, Kentucky, where it makes Jim Beam.
The expansion will increase the capacity of the distillery by 50% while cutting its greenhouse gas emissions in half through the use of anaerobic digestors that will produce renewable natural gas to power the facility.
Beam Suntory said it has entered into an agreement with a renewable energy solutions company to convert spent stillage into biogas which will be treated to renewable natural gas standards and piped directly back to the facility. The digestors will also produce a fertilizer that will be made available to local farmers.
The project is expected to be completed in 2024 and create 51 jobs.
“This expansion will help ensure we meet future demand for our iconic bourbon in a sustainable way that supports the environment and the local community that has helped build and support Jim Beam,” Albert Baladi, Beam Suntory’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
The Kentucky expansion also will play a role in helping the company reach its long-term environmental goals. Beam Suntory aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and go beyond net-zero carbon emissions across its entire value chain by 2040.
Sustainability is an increasingly popular attribute being touted by companies in facility expansions and construction projects.
Cargill is spending $50 million to build a corn syrup refinery in Fort Dodge, Iowa, that will reduce CO2 emissions by close to 50% compared to typical corn syrup production methods. And PepsiCo’s beverage division plans to build a 1.2 million-square-foot manufacturing facility that would be its most sustainable in the U.S. by achieving 100% renewable electricity, best-in-class water efficiency and reduced virgin plastic use.
Sustainability initiatives are one of the primary tools large food and beverage companies are using to not only reduce their environmental footprint but also connect with consumers who consider them when deciding what products to buy. A study by Nielsen in 2018 found nearly half of consumers are likely to change what they buy to meet environmental standards.