Bacardi, BMW, Ford and Others Mix Sustainability with Tourism

Amber Johnson Strategy, Sustainability

Distiller Bacardi manufactures 85 percent of their rum in Puerto Rico, at Casa Bacardi on a landscaped campus that also stands in as one of the island’s major tourist attractions. More than 250,000 visitors take advantage of the free tour and beverages annually – a tour where sustainability receives almost as much emphasis as the Bacardi family history and patented brewing process.

Energy producing windmills stand at the edge of the Bacardi campus, declaring the company’s increased emphasis on sustainability. The message is reinforced during the tour where docents highlight the how rum barrels are recycled into mulch for the campus landscaping; how old vinyl banners are turned into reusable grocery bags; how energy use has decreased by nearly 20 percent in the last four years, and water use is down 41 percent in the same period. (More details are available in the Bacardi sustainability report, available here.) 

Sustainability Tours: A Growing Trend

Companies have long seen factory tours as a way to cement brand loyalty among their customer base. Tours convince guests of the product’s attributes and value – and now, of the company’s commitment to sustainability as well. Bacardi is just one of the many companies incorporating sustainability messaging into their existing tours. 

Luxury car manufacturer BMW’s factory tour in Spartanburg, South Carolina, offers guests the opportunity “to go inside Plant Spartanburg’s main production area, to see the inner workings of a world-class manufacturing facility, to observe best practices in sustainability and efficiency and, most importantly, to witness the birth of a BMW for yourself.” (Learn more here.) 

BMW competitor Ford Motor Company houses their Dearborn, Michigan visitors center in a Gold Certified LEED building. (Read more here.) 

Coca-Cola offers a virtual plant tour on YouTube, focusing on the plant’s sustainability. The plant diverts 98 percent of waste from landfills, producing only a 4 foot hopper, partially filled, of unrecyclable waste per week. 
Companies should be applauded for their efforts to reduce waste and limit energy and water consumption. Sharing progress toward these goals – through sustainability reporting, factory tours, or other means – is a reasonable response, as sustainability efforts have a public relations benefit as well as an environmental one. Green tours are just the start. 

Have you been on a green factory tour? Share your story here.