1. 100% Renewable Energy
Headlands Distilling Co. uses 100% renewable electricity to power the entire distillery. This is used for the mash tun heating, still heating, fermentation chiller, bottling machine, lights, computers, music, everything!
2. Reusing Waste Heat
Our continuous distillation column is a unique energy efficient design, created in-house by the Headlands Distilling Co. team, saving up to 80%+ on power use. Pot stills and batch distillation processes are incredibly energy inefficient.
Say a distillery has a 1000 litre pot still. After fermentation, the batch is around 7% alcohol. The distiller heats up the 1000 litre batch to boiling and distills off the alcohol, which at 7% alcohol is 70 litres of product. The distiller is left with 930 litres of boiling water which is dumped down the drain. Not only is the water wasted, but the heat energy used to get this water boiling is also wasted. Pot stills also require cooling water for the condenser, or an electric chiller to cool down the alcohol vapour. There are ways to get this heat back but it is often not done due to increased equipment and timing needed.
Our energy efficient continuous still pumps the 7% alcohol from fermentation through the outer shell of the condenser and then injects it into the distillation column. This has two benefits. We get heating from ~20 degrees C to ~65 degrees C heating absolutely for free (the liquid absorbs the heat from the vapour and condenses it) and we don’t need to waste any water to run the condenser. The fermentation liquid is its own cooling fluid.
The water leaving the base of our distillation column is further heat exchanged with the incoming 7% fermentation liquid, further scavenging waste heat energy. Any waste heat which isn’t recovered in this step is conserved by using this warm water to rinse our grains.
3. $5 Bottle buyback program
Each of our 700 mL bottles can be returned to us at markets, food and wine festivals, participating bottle shops or the distillery directly for a $5 credit on any of our items.
Bottles will be sterilised and put back into our recycled bottle program.
Even if glass bottles are recycled by council (which they often are not, being put straight into landfill in Australia), it still takes lots of energy to transport the bins, sort, melt and finally blow mould into new bottles. Returning the bottle short circuits this process for maximum environmental benefits.
Bars and restaurants also return bottles for $5 off the next purchase.
4. No single use plastic bottle seals
Most distilleries use a heat shrink plastic seal on their bottles on top of the cork/cap which is ripped off and goes straight into landfill.
At Headlands Distilling Co., we only use a paper sticker or a wax dip, never single use plastic film.
5. Glass tasting cups
If you’ve visited us at a food festival, market, or the distillery, you will notice that we never serve tastes in small disposable plastic cups. Instead, we use small glass laboratory beakers. We have 1000 of them and we dish wash them each time instead of throwing away lots of plastic. This actually saves us money, glass is much nicer to drink from and much better for the environment!
If we serve full size drinks at food festivals, such as a delicious Boobialla gin and tonic, we serve only in uncoated biodegradable paper cups. Never a single use plastic cup.
6. By products to farmers and restaurants
Spent grain husks and yeast are given for free to local farmers.
Spent Illawarra Plum skins, after 9 months of barrel aging, are given to local fine dining restaurants such as Caveau, who makes them into an Australian native gelato as well as other delicious dishes.
This promotes a circular economy where we can get the maximum possible value from our raw materials.
7. Planting native trees
Since we hard forage a large portion of the Illawarra Plum fruit, we save all the seeds and plant them. We have thousands of seeds and are continuously planting them. At the moment we have around 800 of them growing! One day it is our dream to have a whole Illawarra Plum tree orchard somewhere near Wollongong. We have meticulously logged the location where each seed was harvested, different Illawarra Plum trees fruit at vastly different times and have slightly different flavour. One strain we have growing finishes fruiting 2 months before others, allowing for a staggered and sustained fresh harvest!