Member Spotlight: Kim MarottaNovember 18, 2021 | BIER
Company: Beam Suntory
Welcome to our series aimed at spotlighting the individual leaders within BIER member companies and stakeholder organizations. Learn how these practitioners and their companies are addressing pressing challenges around water, energy, agriculture, climate change, and what inspires each of them to advance environmental sustainability in the beverage sector and collectively, overall.
Briefly describe your role and responsibilities and how long you have worked with your company.
I oversee Beam Suntory’s environmental sustainability strategy. I joined the company in June 2021, as their first Global Vice President of Environmental Sustainability. While I’m relatively new here, I’ve worked in the alcohol industry for more than 17 years, previously working for Molson Coors Beverage Company.
In my role, I partner across the business to drive progress against our environmental sustainability goals, and with other senior leaders who lead our consumer sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) agendas.
We are building a center of excellence aligned with our ambitious goals across water, climate, packaging, and farm and field. We have wholly-owned manufacturing facilities across the globe that are driving best practices in partnership with our procurement and packaging teams. It’s incredibly energizing!
How has the company’s sustainability program evolved over the years, and what are your specific priorities for 2021?
Our Proof Positive sustainability strategy, representing investments of more than $1 billion, launched earlier this year, inspired by the leadership of our parent company, Suntory Holdings, and with ambitious goals for 2030 across nature, consumers, and communities.
Within the nature pillar, which I lead, we’re focusing our efforts in a few impactful areas. This includes renewables, where we aim to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
We’re building strategic projects aligned with our growth projections and incorporating new technology and solutions that will ultimately help us build the distillery of the future.
We’re also building regenerative farming practices with our growers through pilot projects, such as with our corn growers in Kentucky, and aiming to expand those across our agricultural supply chain.
In packaging, we’re working closely with our brand houses to make our packaging more sustainable, and in water, we’re focused not only on reducing the water we use to make our products, but also replenishing the watersheds where our distilleries are located.
And that’s just a sample, as we have initiatives in place for white oak preservation, sustainable transport systems, and more.
How do you feel being a BIER member will help you successfully address the key areas you are addressing in 2021?
Well, I’ve enjoyed being a BIER member for quite some time, in my former role back at Molson Coors. I have really appreciated the role that this body can play in benchmarking best practices, and industry collaboration. BIER has been the model for how peers and competitors can work collectively to address shared issues and learn from one another to make a positive impact.
The recently launched “6 Principles of World Class Water Stewardship” is a great example. As beverage companies, water is critical to our business. In 2008 we launched an initial set of principles, and we’re relaunching these now, which reflect current standards and new technology. As more and more companies enter the sustainability space, this kind of thought leadership is more valuable than ever!
Name one of the practical solutions or best practices you learned in working with BIER and its members and why it was important to you and/ or your company.
At Beam Suntory, our team at Casa Sauza in Mexico collaborated with BIER members and other key stakeholders to help protect the quality and quantity of water in an at-risk watershed in the Jalisco region. BIER helped pool resources and the technical knowledge needed to plant native vegetation to help increase groundwater levels, reduce soil erosion, improve the water infrastructure, and promote the importance of water for the health of those communities.
Share a recent accomplishment of your company’s sustainability initiatives/achievements you are most proud of and why.
There are so many exciting things going on, both as we operationalize our new sustainability strategy, and also support the inherent passion of the people who work across our brands. It’s honestly hard to pick just one.
I’m very excited about a partnership we’ve just begun with The Nature Conservancy to reforest an area in Kentucky that was laid bare by strip mining. We are additionally working with our partners at the James B. Beam Institute of Kentucky Spirits, and our Maker’s Mark brand, to establish the world’s largest repository of the American white oak to secure the future of the species.
While those two efforts support our Forest Positive goals, there’s even more going on at Maker’s Mark that supports the natural environment, whether it’s installing solar arrays, building and caring for beehives, growing their own barley & wheat, or establishing our first Natural Water Sanctuary on their grounds. Maker’s is an incredible incubator for us.
If you had one superpower that could be used to radically accelerate and scale sustainable best practices, which one would it be, and how would you use it?
Time travel! As we set ambitious targets, we’re reliant on our ability to leverage technology that doesn’t yet exist. I’d like a superpower that helps us leverage those technologies now. This would help with our goals in packaging, net-zero targets, water efficiency, and scarcity in every realm.
BIER Publications referenced in this interview:
6 Principles of World Class Water Stewardship in the Beverage Industry
The Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) is a technical coalition of leading global beverage companies working together to advance environmental sustainability within the beverage sector.
By BIER [crp]