Why now is the time to make Waste Taste Beautiful?


Discarded Spirits Co. launched in 2018 with the simple, but ambitious goal of reducing needless waste in the food and drink industry. These award-winning, zero-waste spirits set out to challenge how people perceive surplus: from banana peels, to grape skins, to items that go to waste every day in our homes. Now five years old, Discarded Spirits Co. continues to reuse creatively, taking trash and turning it into treasure. The UK is already familiar with organic farming, slow fashion, and even sustainable toilet paper, but Discarded – amongst a handful of other brands – are paving the road of responsible spirits. These companies are questioning a status quo and allowing drinkers an alternative to their traditional tipples.

The journey for Discarded began at Extract Coffee Roastery in Bristol, a meeting of old school friends, and a conversation about coffee production. The UK will consume a massive 95 million cups of coffee over the course of the next 24 hours… but relatively few of us could actively bring to mind the origins of that coffee’s journey to our cups.  The bean which makes this wonderful brew starts its life as a cherry. Like any other cherry, it has flavoursome flesh on the outside and a seed in the middle. But we, and the farmers that grow them, are so focused on the seed, that the flesh is uncared for and unloved. This is the cascara that forms the cornerstone of Discarded Sweet Cascara Vermouth’s distinct rich flavour. 

400 billion cups of coffee will be consumed annually, created from trillions of cherries. By ensuring this fruit has a life beyond the coffee cycle, Discarded can keep a percentage of this ingredient away from landfill, as well as providing a second revenue source to farmers. But more than that, they can raise awareness of this ingredient, and start a conversation about where ‘waste’ begins. 

There is an endless amount of this cascara, grown all over the world, and as an extension a startling amount of food waste globally. One third of all crops grown globally will go to waste, and when this excess is disposed of incorrectly it produces methane, a greenhouse gas 25x more harmful to the environment than CO2. It is calculated that food waste is responsible for 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions. 

Reusing ‘waste’ creatively ~ from banana peels to grape skins

As Discarded matured it looked elsewhere in food and drink creation. It has taken surplus rum from the production of Balvenie 14 and infused it with banana peels, an ingredient synonymous with waste, and created Discarded Banana Peel Rum.


Discarded then looked to the wine industry and the 9 million tonnes of solids left behind from wine production every single year. The seeds, stems, and skins are no use for wine, but filled with sugar, and a perfect base for distillation of Grape Skin Vodka. 


Sustainability does not mean sacrifice ~ from the bar to the home

As Discarded grew, they were able to speak to venues, providing expertise in how to deal with some of the vast amount of waste created in bars. The average bar in the UK will throw away over £1500 of food stuffs each month, but the road to change this has to be about progress, not perfection. Small steps are often the start of the most important journeys. Whether that is creating a ‘sustainable spirits’ section on a drinks menu, or creating ingredients from elements previously destined to be binned. 

The same can be said for those at home. Simple changes can make a huge impact on the amount we throw away and eventually finds it’s way to landfill. Using sugar, acid, or alcohol, the life cycle of items can be extended for weeks or months. 

Take soft fruits for example. As they start to look a bit soft and sad, they are often destined for our composting bins, but by covering them in caster sugar and leaving them for 24 hours, something delicious occurs. The sugar pulls out all the liquid from the fruit to give you the most amazing, flavoursome syrup. 


Once the solids are removed, this syrup will last for a couple of weeks. But we can add citric acid to create a cordial and it will last for months, or even a spirit to make a fruit liqueur and it will keep even longer! The same can be done with banana peels, or even used coffee grounds.

Only 12% of our waste food in the UK is composted. While almost a fifth of food thrown away is binned in the packaging it was purchased in. 

We throw away over £100 million worth of food each year, but there are so many interesting ways to reuse and recreate with this excess, so next time you have some squashed strawberries, an ancient orange, or a browned banana peel, think Zero Waste Spritz, Conscious Cosmo, or Banana Peel Daiquiri. 

Because sustainability does not mean sacrifice.