Tequila Agave Waste Used to Make Bricks
Since partnering with Mexican nonprofit Saving Agave for Culture, Recreation, Education and Development (SACRED) back in October, post-production agave fibers from Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila distillery have been successfully utilized in creating adobe bricks.
In addition to creating the bricks, the companies also identify infrastructure projects for donation that serve as a value-add to local communities. The two companies were first introduced through international organization 1% for the Planet, which works with businesses who pledge to contribute at least 1% of annual sales to environmental causes.
“I'm honored to work alongside 818 Tequila, especially on making adobe bricks out of agave waste and using those bricks to support Mexican communities,” said Lou Bank, Founder and Executive Director of SACRED.
“It's our mission to support the people who make agave spirits, in hopes of sustaining the multigenerational wisdom and practices they inherited from their progenitors who made tequila, mezcal, and other heritage spirits. Our goal is to support the communities that are integral to agave production by working with them directly and asking them what they need.”
According to reports, the first batch of bricks—created through the collaborator’s 818 Bricks Program—are already expected to be used to build a school library and tasting room for a family-run distillery. Both the bricks and the buildings to be constructed were designed by architect Eric Gómez Ibarra. His firm, Tierra Cruda, reportedly specializes in bioclimatic architecture and the use of local materials.
Through the project, the bricks are created using roughly 10-15% of raw, post-production agave fibers as a binder and about 5% of another byproduct of tequila-making called viñaza, in addition to water waste and adobe soil sourced from excavated foundations. According to Ibarra, the acidic distillation waste helps make the adobe bricks more water-resistant.
To form the bricks, the material is mixed the day before and then poured into wooden forms where it is left to dry in the sun for about three days. Because the process requires no energy in some cases, much of the recycled material is considered to have a net-zero carbon footprint.
Fast Company reports that for every bottle of tequila bottled, the fermentation process generates about 11 pounds of agave pulp. In 2021, about 27 million nine-liter cases were sold in the United States alone—amounting to about 2.7 billion pounds of agave waste pulp.
In addition to working with SACRED, 818 Tequila has also transitioned to work with Mexican family-owned Grupo Solave at its state-of-the-art distillery based in Amatitán, Jalisco. According to reports, the move better allows the brand to meet demand for its spirit.
The production process as the facility is noted to be powered by waste using biomass boilers, which both extends the life cycle of the agave and reduces CO2 emissions.
“As we continue our mission to find actionable ways to support Amatitán and the broader Mexican community where our tequila is produced, we're honored to work with SACRED, who has established tremendous relationships with the people producing heritage spirits in the region for generations,” said Mike Novy, 818 Tequila President and COO.
“At 818 Tequila, we want to create a new standard for sustainability while also giving back to those who are so integral to our tequila-making process. Establishing a long-term partnership with Lou and his team at SACRED to expand upon the incredible work they've already done in Mexico really drives our mission.”
Reports indicate that the library project is expected to break ground in the next few weeks with a target completion set for January 2023. Then, work will begin on the tasting room, which will take about five months to complete. Other projects include developing a gathering space for religious festivals and sports activities, also referred to as a “Plaza de la Comunidad.”