"Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" is a slogan all of us have heard by now, whether it's chanted at environmental rallies, written on corporate websites as part of mission statements, or portrayed in a new documentary about sustainability. Even though the 3R's have gained considerable attention over the past five years, the practice of minimizing waste, reusing what we can, and recycling what we can't, goes back decades.
Many parents and grandparents of the pre-baby boomer generation conserved certain materials to help save resources, which is why we frequently hear them tell us how beneficial it can be to repurpose items. An economic boom quickly followed between the 50s and 70s, where a large number of single-use items were manufactured, leading to a growing consciousness of the impact humans can have on the environment.
We continue to experience this rise in awareness today and it affects almost every aspect of our lives. More than ever before, consumers are looking for products that are transparent and support the health and well-being of our planet, while aligning with their personal values. The world of sparkling wine is no exception – a drink increasingly popular among environmentally conscious consumers. Sektkellerei OHLIG, a German family winery founded in 1919, came up with a novel idea to make a fully sustainable product by distilling spirit from excess residual yeast from traditional Sekt production. Typically, the yeast is discarded after the second fermentation, but Markus Jost from Sektkellerei OHLIG reexamined this by-product, and in collaboration with creative agency Ruska Martín Associates, developed a whole new beverage experience called RE:INCARNATED SPIRITS.
RE:INCARNATED SPIRITS is the first distillery brand with a 100% circular spirit (literally and figuratively) and packaging design, in which everything is wholeheartedly and consistently reused, giving all elements of the product a new life. A limited-edition of 444 bottles titled RE:BRAND #1 offers consumers the chance to experience a bottle that is truly circular inside and out.
The winery reuses yeast that carries the spirit of the finest wines from Rheingau, one of Germany's 13 designated wine regions. “To concentrate the aromas as best as possible, it is then distilled twice in Hubertus Vallendar's copper distilling kettle, where the alcohol enriched with these complex aromas is separated from the rest of the yeast and purified”, describes Roman Ruska, CEO of Ruska Martín Associates. To develop its full potential and increase purity, the distillate is then stored for about half a year.
In addition to capturing the essence of the product, the team at RE:INCARNATED SPIRITS strived to enhance it with a 100% sustainable design solution that included a creative, apt, and meaningful name. “With its focus on demonstrating a new circular approach to spirit making, the product presented a rebirth for champagne and high-percentage drinks overall”, says Ruska.
Our first point of attention is the unique label design. “We wanted to illustrate a reversal of throwaway culture with a 100% recycled non-adhesive yellow label that stops shredding halfway to emphasize the idea of repurposing”, explains Ruska. The label is adhered to the bottle using Avery Dennison's Fasson® rCrush Grape FSC® a premium uncoated self-adhesive paper made from 15% grape waste, 40% of recycled pulp, and 45% virgin fibers. Furthermore, these stylish labels are used to dress bottles that are made from 100% recycled post-consumer glass developed by Estal. “No bottles with aesthetic defects are discarded in the production process, resulting in an authentic design that adds to the sense of sustainable imperfection”, adds Ruska. Topping them off are corks made exclusively from recycled sparkling wine corks. Last but not least, the bottles come packaged in uncoated cardboard boxes that are perfect for transporting and feature recycled padding made from shredded Euro banknotes that did not meet the quality criteria for public use. A truly innovative product that not only offers consumers a circular experience, but also a wow factor.
With its groundbreaking approach where all elements are reused or recycled, RE:BRAND #1 is certainly making waves in the industry. “Considering its visual appeal, the product is almost as desirable as a work of art, and consumers who love the aesthetics of the product are calling in with special requests to have the limited edition bottles”, explains Ruska. They can rest assured that if they decide to consume the contents of the spirit, the glass, cork, paper, and whatever else remains can continually be recycled.