Sustainability Matters

Petra Gräsbeck, Director Sustainability and Communications, Anora Group Plc, Interviewed


Introduction by: Peter Marshall

Sustainability Matters is a brand new initiative this year from  Over the next 12 months our content will cover all the main issues that are relevant, showcasing companies inside and outside Travel Retail that are leading the way with meaningful, sustainable actions. Hopefully each feature will provide a source of reference for the industry, building a  greater understanding of what is important and how best to accelerate sustainable actions now within your business.

I am delighted that Anora Group Plc are our partners in this key project. Anora is a company where Sustainability lies at the very heart of everything that they do as a business and Anora are widely considered a leading global player in this area.  It is only fitting therefore that our first editorial deals with defining the key Sustainability trends. I recently caught up with Petra Grasbeck, Anora’s Director of Sustainability and Communications.

Peter Marshall (PM): Petra, let me start our conversation by asking what kind of company is Anora?

Petra Grasbeck (PG):  Anora is the leading Nordic spirits and wine company, and we want to grow as a business through sustainability. We have around 1,100 employees in seven countries and our headquarters is in Helsinki. The Nordic and Baltic countries are our home markets, and we also export our key brands to over 30 countries.

Travel Retail is an important channel for Anora because we see it as a key channel for building our brands, presenting the latest innovations, creating engaging consumer experiences and, through these, showcasing our dedication to being the forerunner in sustainability in our industry. Our flagship product in travel retail is Koskenkorva Vodka Climate Action – the world’s first vodka made from regeneratively farmed barley.

PM: Anora is sponsoring the Sustainability Matters blog on, which will appear once a month. Why did you want to be involved?

PG: Because Sustainability matters! We see Travel Retail as the best environment for reaching people when they’re in an open and positive mood, exploring new things and welcoming new ideas. Travel Retail could therefore be key to introducing consumers to climate-smart packaging, ecologically and socially sustainably certified products and effective recycling, for example – all of which are important sustainability topics for us. 

This blog is a great initiative to support this discussion and development. Fighting climate-change and loss of biodiversity is not done in silos, but in collaboration – even between companies that are otherwise competitors. This is a topic that all of us operating in Travel Retail communities must unite around. The Sustainability Matters blog on is a great platform to share ideas, best practices and, frankly, challenge each other. We are grateful that we have this opportunity and are very much looking forward to great and independent editorial content throughout the year!

PM: So, Petra, let’s get to it. What do you see as the biggest Sustainability trends in 2023?

PG:  Well, slowing down climate change continues to be the biggest focus area, as we collectively have not managed to cut emissions with the needed urgency. Companies need to decrease their fossil emissions radically and shift to renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power. 

We also need to find ways for protecting and creating carbon sinks: the forest, fields and water areas that sequester carbon. Regenerative farming is a rising trend related to this issue.

Food systems generate approximately 30% of global CO₂ emissions and are the primary drivers of biodiversity loss. Regenerative farming sequesters carbon to farmlands, improves soil health and supports biodiversity. 

A new, growing topic is indeed biodiversity. Biodiversity is critical for all life on earth and strongly relates to climate change mitigation. Many companies are conducting biodiversity assessments in 2023 and building plans to enhance biodiversity in their own communities and surrounding environment as well as in the raw-material production in their value chains.

The United Nations Biodiversity Conference COP 15 made history in December 2022, when governments globally agreed on goals and actions to halt and reverse nature loss. Also, the Science Based Targets Network will publish in March 2023 a framework to set science-based targets for this same purpose, to stop the loss of species.

In a few years, the EU will propose new regulation on companies’ responsibility regarding their environmental impacts and human rights in their value chains. Therefore, human rights will also be a big topic for many companies, and assessments and new policies are needed. Two key documents to read, in order to get familiar with these human rights issues, are OECD Guidelines and UN Guiding Principles for business conduct.

Finally, water continues to be an important topic globally, in water scarcity areas especially. We will also see new legislation to increase efforts to reduce waste and increase recycling, including the use of more sustainable materials in products and packaging and reducing single-use plastics.

PM: OK, so let me ask what can I usefully do as a consumer and, post Covid, as an increasingly frequent flyer? 

PG: As consumers, we can choose quality over quantity in travelling. Maybe travel less and also consider how you travel, placing emphasis on quality. We can choose public transport, such as trains or buses for shorter trips or for some part of our travel route. We can also choose sustainable transportation, including alternative-fuel vehicles, or offset our carbon emissions through carbon offset programs. 

I would also emphasise how important it is to assess how travelling impacts the communities and ecosystems we visit and try to make a positive impact. 

PM: You have some ideas here?

PG: Yes. I think there are a number of things that should be considered.  First, support local businesses. Depending on the community, it might be beneficial to support, for example, small family businesses, businesses  driven by women, or businesses driven by persons of colour or indigenous people. 

Second,  I would  say respect the environment during travel and at your destination – just dispose of trash properly, avoid littering, and definitely minimise your use of plastic. 

Next, consider sustainable tourism options. Look for eco-friendly accommodations and tour operators that prioritise conservation and community development. 

Find time to educate yourself. Learn about the history, culture and environmental issues of the places you are visiting, so you can make informed decisions and be a responsible traveller.

And last, but by no means least, give back. Simply volunteer or make a donation to a local community or conservation organisation.

PM: So how do you think that Travel Retail can make a genuine difference in sustainability?

PG: Travel Retail can and should focus in particular on climate-smart packaging, that is packaging made from recycled or certified raw-materials that is returnable and recyclable. We should also aim for lighter weight packaging – this helps to significantly reduce the CO₂ footprint during the logistics of the product, all the way from manufacturing to the home of the end-user. 

Another topic Travel Retail could strongly support is reducing waste and supporting recycling. For example, minimise the use of single-use plastics on board, in restaurants and hospitality, recycle materials and properly dispose of waste.

Also, sustainable sourcing is another key element to consider: select environmentally and socially sustainable supply chains, reliable sustainability certificates and choosing raw materials that are produced with environmentally friendly methods or from recycled sources. 

PM: But there has been some movement from the industry already in these regards, and we will be featuring a number of airports, airlines, ferries, retailers and brands who are clearly adopting a sustainability strategy. But arguably, the industry as a whole has still been slow to move.

PG: Yes, when it comes to travelling, many airlines and ferries have made significant commitments to decrease their CO₂ emissions. Their actions involve, for example, investing in more fuel-efficient planes and ships, using alternative fuels, and implementing practices to reduce fuel consumption.

Many airports have set targets to improve energy efficiency, for example, through energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems. Some travel retailers are moving towards recycling furniture and dispensing with plastic carrier bags etc., and a number of brands are looking at  their supply chains and regenerative practices. But there is a long way to go for all of us to reach the global targets to stop climate change.

PM: So what do you expect from the Sustainability Matters blog?

PG: As we’ve just said, a number of companies and sectors in Travel Retail have made significant efforts to reduce their environmental footprint. I’m very much looking forward to hearing about best-practices, innovation and sustainable ways of working from different players in this sector. I think that these discussions will be of great benefit, as Sustainability Matters to us all.

Sustainability Matters In Association with Anora Group Plc

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