Biofuels: an alternative to reduce environmental impact

More than 40 degrees of temperature in many of our countries already seems to be common news every summer. These rising temperatures are just one of the many effects of environmental damage caused by greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activities. A reminder that governments, industries, and individuals must do something to stop the damage to the planet. A reminder also for us, as a brand in the tequila industry, to continue looking for options to reduce our carbon footprint at every stage of our production and distribution process.

On average, Tequila at 40% alcohol volume produces 3 kg of carbon dioxide emissions per liter. The raw material (agave crops) does not play an important role here as it only contributes 1/10 of the total GHG emissions. On the other hand, the processing of raw materials and packaging is the main contributor, representing approximately 2/5 and 1/5 respectively. The use of fossil fuels (mainly fuel oil) and heavy glass bottles are the causes of these high contributions.

As our commitment is to drive change in the tequila industry, Buen Vato has worked to find lighter packaging options. Our next step is to start a project to reduce carbon emissions from the main source of tequila production, fossil fuels for the cooking and distillation process, and we believe biofuels are a great option.

But… what are biofuels?

Biofuels have become an environmentally friendly alternative to fossil fuels, since they are produced from renewable biomass sources, such as plants, animals, and food waste, have lower pollutant emissions, and are fully biodegradable. Biofuels also release carbon dioxide; however, a higher amount of carbon dioxide is typically captured during the cultivation of renewable biomass and/or during biofuel production, making them “carbon-negative fuels.” The challenge is the production capacity to meet current demand.

There are mainly two categories of biofuels, first and second generation. First-generation biofuels are produced from edible biomass, such as corn, sugarcane, and oilseeds. Hence, crop production for first-generation biofuels competes with land use for food production, limiting availability. Second-generation biofuels were developed to overcome this limitation, using non-edible biomass available in greater amounts (for example wood and waste) as feedstock. One of these feedstocks is “used cooking oil”, which can be used to produce biodiesel to reduce carbon emissions by up to 90% compared to conventional diesel.

We know that it is not an easy process, but once again we are willing to work on it. That is why we are in the phase of searching for experts in the biofuels field, ranging from suppliers, consultants, and researchers, who can guide us to face the challenges of implementing a plan to reduce the impact of the fossil fuels at the distillery by up to 90% using biofuels that come from used cooking oil. So, we hope in a while to announce this great news.



Pleanjai, S.  Gheewala, S.  Garivait, S. “Greenhouse gas emissions from production and use of used cooking oil methyl ester as transport fuel in Thailand”, Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 17, pp. 873-876, 2009.

Buen Vato. Carbon emission in the Tequila industry: something we have to think about. 2022.

A call to action, a call to rescue

In 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were created and adopted by all United Nations (UN) Member States as an urgent response to global environmental damage and its huge consequences as high temperatures, floods, extreme droughts, species extinction… and the list is long.

This call for action, as it is named by the UN, is halfway, so it was the moment to evaluate its progress. Unfortunately, as it was expected, the results are not positive, according to the General Assembly Economic and Social Council´s report of progress (on May 2023), many of the SDGs are moderately to severely off track and it is necessary to accelerate the implementation of the goals.

Coming back to the route to get closer to the goal in 2030 requires a rescue plan, the meeting calling to make it could be in September, and the commitment of all social actors, not only governments. As an industry, we have a big responsibility.

United Nations (UN). Sustainable Development Goals.


What about the spirits industry?

According to the Mario Molina Centre and the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT), on average, Tequila at 40% alcohol volume produces 3 kg of carbon emissions (CO2e) per liter. The greatest contribution to the emissions comes from the consumption of fossil fuels for steam generation in the production of tequila, followed by the indirect emissions from the production of the glass bottle and the transportation and distribution of the tequila to the consumer. In the agricultural phase, the largest contribution comes from the use of nitrogen fertilizers.

Mario Molina Centre and the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT).


In 2022 Mexico produced 651 million liters of tequila and exported 416 million, which means, approximately, a carbon footprint of 1,953,000 tons of CO2e in total, and 1,248,000 tons of CO2e only for the tequila that was exported.

In Sweden, the monopoly for alcoholic beverages Systembolaget has implemented some initiatives to move us closer to the SDGs. For example, the DKI Dryckesbranschens Klimatiniciativ (The beverage industry’s Climate Initiative), where the participants report in a joint tool to measure, monitor and target their climate impact. Currently, 86% of Systembolaget’s sold volume is reported. The results are shocking. Packaging materials (61%) and freight transport (26%) are the largest emission item for importers of beverages. The situation could look similar in the rest of the world.

DKI Dryckesbranschens Klimatiniciativ.


Buen Vato´s commitment

Buen Vato was born in 2020 due to the necessity of acting right now. Our first focus was to solve two of the biggest problems for the environment in the industry: packaging and transport. That´s why we became the world’s first tequila sold in a 94% recycled paperboard bottle, with 84% fewer carbon emissions per bottle. We also decided to bottle as close as possible to the final consumer, so with this measure and the lighter packaging we reduce 0.52 kg/CO2 per liter of tequila.

To produce our tequila, we consider quality and sustainability. In 2019 we started hand-to-hand work with Destilería La Santa Rosa in Mexico, one of our providers who previously failed three audits of Amfori BSCI, a set of principles or standards that enables companies to monitor, engage, get empowered, and receive support to put sustainable trade at the heart of their business and improve social performance at their supply chain.  With our support and more than 1000 hours invested, they finally approved it. So, it´s not a coincidence that Buen Vato is produced in this distillery.

Besides to continue searching for innovative and sustainable packaging options, and monitoring compliance with the code of conduct in the distillery, we plan to lower the impact of the fossil fuels at the distillery by up to 85% using biofuels that came from used cooking oil, right now we are searching for expert support from universities and for suppliers. We also wish to have a circular distillery, reusing our waste as a source of renewable energy, instead of disposing of it in the environment. Is this thinking big? Maybe, but by thinking big Buen Vato is a reality.

And the rest of the chain?

As we said all actors are important to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. For example, as an investor or importer, you can support small producers to implement sustainable practices and better conditions like a code of conduct for their employees, it is a contribution to the industry but also to society.

As a consumer, conscious shopping, not just in the spirits industry, is an important step. In the case of tequila, people traditionally rate tequila because of its raw material, production process, taste, and other parameters that are important, but what about also considering the environmental and social impact?

Luckily there are global efforts to have better results for a better world in 2030, small and big brands implementing Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives and projects, and more informed consumers trying to make better decisions. But the goal is high and requires everyone’s commitment and effort. The rescue plan belongs to everyone.



Mario Molina Center; CRT, “Sustainability Strategy for the Agave-Tequila Production Chain”, Mario Molina Center, 2016.

United Nations; UN. General Assembly Economic and Social Council. Advance Unedited Version. United Nations, 2023.

Dryckesbranschens Klimatinitiativ; DKI. Dryckesbranschens Klimatpåverkan, 2021.

Tips to create more sustainable cocktails

Sustainability is at the center of many discussions. Luckily! Because minimizing the negative social and environmental impact of corporations but also of daily activities needs to be a priority.

Even the drinks that we consume have a carbon footprint, but Buen Vato is convinced that it is possible to enjoy alcoholic beverages in a more sustainable way possible. So here are three simple tips or ideas to prepare more sustainable cocktails.

  1. Check the products that you buy

The first step is to do conscious shopping. Today is easy to check the labels of the products and get information about the producers. Such as all that we buy, it’s important to verify if the products, like spirits, are responsible to the environment and the society in their production and distribution processes and with their packages. Does this take longer? Maybe, but the world needs it.

  1. Zero waste cocktails

Fruits and vegetables can give interesting notes to our cocktails, and we can sustainably use them. Avoid exotic fruits and use local and seasonal products. Use the whole product, from the leaves to the skin, and buy some of them that people discard because they don´t look perfect. Another tip is to use dried fruits and herbs or fermented drinks to avoid perishable ingredients.

  1. Fewer residues, please!

In recent years we have seen the devastating effect of residues on the environment. Fortunately, people use fewer and fewer straws in their drinks. Avoid elements like paper umbrellas or napkins, you can be creative in your cocktail’s decoration with fruit waste, for example. Although we can recycle, it´s better don´t generate residues.

So, let’s raise your glass and say: Here’s to Change!

Child labour: a problem that we all must fight

According to The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, nearly 1 in 10 children are subjected to child labour worldwide, and almost half of them are in hazardous work that is detrimental to their health and development. In the least developed countries, the situation is worse, more than one in four children are subjected to child labour.

The main reason for child labour is poverty, when the families have financial challenges because the caregiver falls ill, loses their job or the money isn´t enough for the basic needs. It compromises the physical, mental, social, or educational development of children and it can lead to bigger consequences like slavery and sexual or economic exploitation.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the percentage of children and adolescents in child labour decreased from 10.8% in 2008 to 7,3% in 2016, says the International Labour Organization, ILO, in its technical note in 2020. However, there are still around 10.5 million children and adolescents in child labour, an alarming number that could be higher after the pandemic.

As a society, we must be aware of our direct and indirect responsibility for child labour. The companies are committed to verifying the working conditions of all those who intervene in our business chain, and as consumers, we must choose the products of companies that are responsible and contribute to the community.

Buen Vato is against child labor, all illegal practices, and unfavorable conditions for workers. We vowed to only work with producers who share our values, ensuring their working conditions of the required modern humanitarian standards. We have invested over 1700 hours, over four years, helping Buen Vatos´ distillery in Mexico (Destilería La Santa Rosa) understand the code of conduct and still meet with them every week to ensure standards are being maintained.

Improvements include contracts for all workers and a labour union plan, onsite doctor visits, contractual human rights policies, and ongoing guidance on ethical business practices. “We’re very proud of the CSR projects we’re involved in within Mexico, which improve the lives of the employees and their families,” explains Mayra Zapata, Buen Vato co-founder, and CSR manager.



International Labour Organization, ILO. “Impact on the labour market and income in Latin America and the Caribbean”, 2020.

The United Nations Children´s Fund, Unicef. Child labour. [Online]. Available:,their%20health%20and%20moral%20development.

What about the water footprint?

Water as a renewable resource is one of the great concerns today, mainly for two reasons: we cannot live without it and it is in crisis, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) warns that water scarcity affects more than 40% of people and this risk is projected to rise.

When it comes to water, the figures for the environmental impact of the food industry change drastically. The EAT-Lancet Commission states that 70% of all global water withdrawals are used for food production. But not all foods used the same amount of freshwater in their production. A good indicator to know how much water is used for a given product is the water footprint. In their article Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers, J. Poore and T. Nemecek show that milk requires as much as 623 liters of freshwater per liter of the finished product meanwhile 1 kg of apples takes 180 liters of freshwater. Researchers gave us the numbers; it is our turn to act and make educated choices.

Tequila is not an exemption from water-intensive production. The Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) in collaboration with the Mario Molina Centre concluded that to produce 1 liter of Tequila 40% alc. Vol. is required 15 liters of fresh water on average. However, the impact on the freshwater resource does not end in consumption. According to the article Tequila vinasses: generation and full-scale treatment processes, during the distillation process, a high pollutant by-product is created, namely vinasse. Vinasse (Figure 1) is characterized by high levels of organic and inorganic matter, high temperature (90 °C), and low pH (3.0–4.5), which causes deterioration of the limited freshwater availability in Mexico. Therefore, it is frightening that 10-12 L of polluted water (vinasses) are generated for each liter of Tequila and 80% of the vinasse produced in the Tequila Industry is thrown away without making sure the parameters are like those found in the natural water bodies. (Figure 2).

Figure 1 Storage Vinasse after the distillation process.

Figure 2 Vinasse placed in the environment will move to near water bodies and finally, nature.

The Tequila industry should propose actions on both freshwater consumption and vinasse production. Understanding the water footprint of Tequila can help to find the Tequila that has the least possible negative impact on the environment, by proposing a solution to clean (treat) vinasse to return it to water bodies without endangering local life. Buen Vato focus to reduce the carbon footprint as much as possible. We work closely with the producer to implement actions that aim to reduce the vinasse problem, by making them safe for life in the surrounding areas.


Willett, J. Rockström, B. Loken, M. Springmann, T. Lang, S. Vermeulen and e. al., “Food in the Anthropocene: the EAT-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems”, The LANCET commissions, vol. 393, no. 10170, pp. 447-492, 2019.

Poore and T. Nemecek, “Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers”, Science, vol. 360, pp. 987-992, 2018.

Mario Molina Center; CRT, “Sustainability Strategy for the Agave-Tequila Production Chain”, Mario Molina Center, 2016.

López-López, G. Davila-Vazquez, E. León-Becerril and e. al., “Tequila vinasses: generation and full scale treatment processes”, Reviews in Environmental Science and Bio/Technology, 2010.

Carbon emission in the Tequila industry: something we have to think about

Severe storms, floods, droughts, and wildfires are some of the effects of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from human activities. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is the scientific group assembled by the United Nations (UN), GHG emissions continue to rise, due to the lack of ambitious plans to reduce them.

Currently, as reported by NASA, the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2), an important GHG, are above levels that have not been seen since 3 million years ago when sea levels were higher enough to inundate today’s major cities around the world. Consequently, the global temperature has increased by 1.01 °C since pre-industrial time (1880) and the UN’s scientific group has established that it will reach 1.5 °C if we do not move to a low-carbon economy and society.

It is easy to feel overwhelmed with these facts and think that it is nothing left to do. It is possible that the alcoholic beverage category poses major environmental challenges at global and local levels because while the impact of alcohol consumption on health is well studied, knowledge about the environmental impact of alcohol is limited.

The study Climate impact of alcohol consumption in Sweden says that alcoholic beverages production generates GHG emissions in the range of 0.73 to 2.38 kg CO2e/L (carbon dioxide equivalent per liter). Wine has the highest impact per liter (2.38 kg CO2e/L), followed by spirits (2.07 kg CO2e /L), and emissions from beer are lower (0.73-0.81 kg CO2e/L). This work also highlights the major contributors to the carbon footprint of alcoholic beverages, which are highly dependent on the category. For instance, whereas the brewery process accounts for 2/5 of total emissions from beer production, feedstock and packaging are the major contributors to liquor and wine production. Emissions from packaging in wine and liquor are particularly higher due to the preference for personalized heavy glass bottles.

Despite differences in carbon footprint, large carbon footprint reductions are evident across all alcoholic beverage types; however, realizing this potential may require tailoring solutions and sustainable actions for the different alcoholic beverages. The Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) in collaboration with the Mario Molina Centre developed sustainable actions for the Tequila industry, considering the greatest contributors to GHG emissions. On average, Tequila at 40% alcohol volume produces 3 kg CO2e/L (2.5 if the transport is not considered, as in the Swedish work). However, feedstock does not play an important role here as it only contributes to 1/10 of the total GHG emissions. On the other hand, the processing of feedstock and packaging is the major contributor, accounting for approximately 2/5 and 1/5 respectively. The use of fossil fuels (mainly fuel oil) and heavy glass bottles are the causes behind those high contributions.

To sum things up, all our consumer choices have an environmental impact, one bigger than others. Therefore, it is necessary to know the carbon footprint of products to make educated choices.

The Tequila industry must focus on the feedstock processing and packaging that experts approved as the most important to reduce environmental impact. Understanding the carbon footprint of Tequila can help to find the Tequila that has the least possible negative impact on the environment, by using low-carbon fuels and lighter packaging solutions.

It is clear for Buen Vato where to focus to reduce the carbon footprint as much as possible. The paperboard bottle is one of the actions that we implemented to do so, reducing the carbon footprint up to 86%, compared to a conventional glass bottle. Besides, we work closely with the producer to implement actions in the production of the Tequila shortly. All this considered, Buen Vato is here to redefine the way Tequila is made.



NASA, 2022. [Online]. Available:

Hallström, N. Håkansson, A. Åkesson, A. Wolk and U. Sonesson, “Climate impact of alcohol consumption in Sweden”, Journal of Cleaner Production, vol. 201, pp. 287-294, 2018.

Mario Molina Center; CRT, “Sustainability Strategy for the Agave-Tequila Production Chain”, Mario Molina Center, 2016.