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Eco-tote aims to make Bermuda gin greener

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Roy Fellowes of the Bermuda Gin Co with one of his refillable, reusable ecoTotes (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
A refillable, reusable ecoTotes container from ecoSpirits (Photograph by Jessie Moniz Hardy)
Bermuda Gin co Pink House and White Roof gin (Photograph supplied)

When Roy Fellowes launched the Bermuda Gin Co in 2019, he worried about the environmental impact of his gins.

Glass bottles are vitally important for the marketing and sale of his Pink House and White Roof gins, but the production, transporting, and packaging of the bottles creates waste and carbon emissions.

“A lot of fossil fuel is used to make a bottle,” Mr Fellowes said. “Even if you recycle it, there is more carbon emissions in the recycling process.”

To reduce the environmental impact, he teamed up with Singapore-based spirits distribution company ecoSpirits.

Starting in October, Bermuda Gin Co will bring in some of its gin in 220-litre drums. The product will be transferred from the drums, to specially constructed ecoTotes, which contain a 4.5 litre glass jar. Restaurants and bars use the ecoTotes to refill the gin bottles they have.

ecoTote empties will be sent back to Mr Fellowes for sterilisation and redistribution. The containers can last for up to five years.

Each time an ecoTote goes to the venue and comes back again, ecoSpirits conducts carbon reducing work. In Asia Pacific, they plant a tree in Borneo every time a loop is completed. For Bermuda, they will be removing a kilogram of waste from the ocean, for each loop.

Swedish company, the Green Steps Group monitors and manages the environmental side of things.

“They are a specialist in carbon emissions tracking and measuring,” Mr Fellowes said. “They will engage with organisations or companies to go out and make the recovery of waste from the ocean. That does not mean it will be done in Bermuda. They will find the best place to do it.”

The waste collected will be weighed, measured, photographed and validated. The data is later audited to ensure its accuracy.

“The benefit of the ecoTote to the hospitality industry, is that they can offer their customers a green option,” Mr Fellowes said.

He said, while most green options turn out to be more expensive for the customer, the ecoTote changes that dynamic. Importing the gin in drums, as opposed to bottles, allows the Bermuda Gin Co to offer their gin at a lower cost. And it is significantly cheaper for restaurants and bars to refill with the ecoTotes compared to buying new bottles of gin.

The tote is only available to the hospitality industry at the moment. Bottles will continue to be sold in grocery stores.

Mr Fellowes and his wife, Susan, and daughter Kristyn, plan to carry out the sterilisation themselves, at first.

ecoSpirits will send a trainer to Bermuda to teach the Fellowes how to sterilise the ecoTotes properly.

Their hope is to see other beverage companies and distributors in Bermuda adopt the same technology.

“If it is just the Bermuda Gin Co that does it, it will have a very small impact on Bermuda,” Mr Fellowes said. “To really have a meaningful impact on Bermuda, we need a coalition of industry partners.”

Mr Fellowes and his wife decided to manufacture gin, after noticing its rising popularity in the world. After a long career in the insurance industry, Mr Fellowes was working part time, and had some time on his hands.

“Bermuda has a terrific rum,” he said. “I love, when I am travelling, seeing Goslings Black Seal Rum on a bar. I always think, that is great. That is something from Bermuda. We have black rum, wouldn’t it be nice to do a gin?”

He spent the next year or so happily researching.

“A big part of that was trying other gins,” he laughed. “It was fun research.”

He learnt that he can not manufacture it in Bermuda because of the Bermuda Spirits Act 1890. Instead, he uses a small contract distiller in England to make it.

What makes his gins typically Bermudian are the botanicals in them. Pink House Gin, launched in November 2019, is infused with hibiscus, blood orange and rose petals.

“So there is some sweetness, but there is this floral bouquet that comes off of it,” Mr Fellowes said.

His White Roof, released in June 2020, contains prickly pear.

In grocery stores, Bermuda Gin Co products retail for around $52. For more information see www.bermudaginco.com or e-mail info@bermudaginco.com.

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Published September 02, 2021 at 8:00 am (Updated September 03, 2021 at 8:04 am)

Eco-tote aims to make Bermuda gin greener

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