The Environmental Impact of Cider and Consequences of Cider Production

What’s better than having a cold cider drink knowing it is brewed in a sustainable cidery? Nowadays, people are becoming more cautious about how companies use their products and materials in an environmentally conscious way, leading to consumers reacting positively to sustainability, which also leads to more engagement and higher sales. Cideries depend on crops such as apples, as a key ingredient.

The environmental impact of cider can be felt through air pollution. One of the key contributors to carbon emissions is transportation, so the more locally apples are sourced, the more sustainable they are, and the less amount of carbon emissions are put out. Working with local farmers not only decreases emissions, it allows cideries to have close relationships with growers who will cater to their needs. Some cideries even grow and have their own apple orchards. Cideries, unlike supermarkets, do not care if the apple is bruised, discolored or has an insect bite, they simply care about the juice it holds. Taking this even farther, it means that apples grown with the purpose of becoming hard cider can skip the pesticide process. They do not use pesticide on their orchards, therefore producing organic apples in a natural fashion, and eliminating and preventing the pesticide runoff into lakes and streams.

Producers are becoming more conscientious about the environmental impact of cider.The material they use are low waste: once cider apples are juiced, the remaining wasted fruit fiber, called pomace, can be used for livestock feed, or is incorporated into compost, back into the soil and environment. Currently, fumes and waste are all around us, so to see cideries make their apple ciders in a sustainable environment is very appealing and satisfying to the mind and body.

Did you know that hard cider is the best alcoholic beverage for the environment? While it is still the smallest portion of the alcohol industry, it’s also the fastest growing. By comparing it to other alcoholic beverages, it has the simplest production process. The process Apple Orchard Owners go through is: growing, picking, washing, grinding and mashing the apples. After that,

letting it sit and ferment without heat (similar to the process for wine). There you have it, the process is complete for packaging.

The Environmental Impact of Cider

The environmental life cycle of any beverage production considers the drink from raw materials to its waste which includes the materials used for the drink and packaging. There are many factors that go into the production process: distillation practices, water use, transportation, refrigeration, and waste management. Here are the 3 largest aspects of alcohol production. The first aspect is raw materials being the fruit for the alcohol and the materials for the containers and packaging. The second aspect is production which requires the use of generating electricity, refrigeration, water use, and waste management. The third aspect is transportation depending on the distance and the use of fuel consumption, refrigeration, and GHG (Greenhouse gasses) emissions it will produce. Apple orchards, like many forms of vegetation, absorb carbon dioxide, provide habitats to wildlife and, if done right, offer seasonal grazing of livestock as was done in the past.

With that in mind, we can conclude that in terms of producing in a sustainable environment, cideries are actually more sustainable than other craft beverage producers like breweries or distilleries. This is due to the fact that cider is fermented without heat, similar to wine. This process uses less energy, and if the cidery is committed to using renewable energy, the cidery can not only be a low energy producing company, but it can also use clean energy. Cideries not only lower the carbon footprint and energy expenditure of the company, but also appeal to people who are into sustainability. Thus, it helps lower the consumer guilt of feeding into potentially harmful or wasteful corporate practices. In these ways, the environmental impact of cider is minimized, while still remaining appealing and profitable.


Once apple cider is produced it requires packaging, which can also be done in a similar mindful and sustainable way. Packaging the apple cider is another important step that should not be taken lightly, for example, the debate of whether to use glass or aluminum cans. Research shows that aluminum cans can be recycled over and over again, as they are made up of 70% recycled material and are lighter to transport. Thus, more and more cideries are opting for the recycled cans instead of glass to protect and contain their product. It is important to choose packaging that minimizes waste and the negative environmental impacts of cider, and maximizes profit, quality, and efficiency.

Paktech packaging company is very conscious about the environmental impact of cider and other beverages producers, they take pride in being  known to be one of the more sustainable companies. Consumers prefer using 100% recyclable packaging that uses as little material as possible and PakTech’s handles provide all three. With lower emissions, less ozone depletion, cleaner water and less energy used, PakTech’s handles are the most environmentally friendly option. From supporting local farmers and giving to environmental non-profits, to joining their commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2030, there are tons of additional ways to become an environmental impact of cider and other companies today.


As many cideries recognize the importance of a sustainable environment, Winchester Ciderworks purchase their apples from a neighboring apple orchard to minimize the effect waste that is caused by fossil fuel. (Most growers are being conscientious about the use of  pesticides and fertilizers that disrupt natural ecosystems. For centuries before modern agriculture, apple growers would maintain natural meadows under apple trees, allowing livestock to seasonally graze, and thereby to fertilize the orchard with their waste) (Cider Culture).

Knowing this, it shouldn’t be a surprise that conventional apple farming had the biggest environmental impact of cider, and that many farmers are reverting to the older methods of farming, which are better for the environment, hence better for our future.

After hearing of the sustainable practices of apple cideries, are you more likely to get an ice cold bottle of local and sustainable cider, or a regular old beer?

The Cider-Making Process

Hard cider has become one of the most popular alcoholic beverages in America. The popularity of this beverage has risen dramatically over the past decade and will continue to grow in the years to come. Cider produces over $1 billion in revenue each year. In North America the market is predicted to grow 3.5% between 2022 and 2027. The cider-making process is very strenuous and time consuming.

Step 1: Gathering the Ingredients

The first step of the cider-making process is finding the right ingredients. This starts by finding the correct apples for the type of cider that is going to be made. The apples are then washed and pressed in a machine to extract the juice. The machines used for pressing the apples range from a hand-operated device to an industrial machine. Those who are making their own cider at home can buy apple cider and juice to forgo buying the apples and pressing them.

According to an article from Michigan State University, some of the best apples for making hard cider include Golden Delicious, McIntosh, and Yarlington Mills (these are just a few of the many apples used when making hard cider). Using the right kind of apple is a vital part of the process. Different apples produce different flavors such as sweet, tart, bittersweet, etc. Some other ingredients that are needed include brewer’s yeast (not baking yeast) and sugar. Yeast converts sugar into alcohol during the fermentation stage.

Harvest apples in big industrial apple orchard. Machine and crate for picking apples. Concept for growing and harvesting apples through automatization. Sunny day. Red apples in farm. Contemporary apple farm.

Step 2: Prepare and Sanitize Equipment

The second step of the cider-making process involves gathering the equipment needed and making sure it is sanitized properly. According to Home Cider Making these are the tools that are needed for making hard cider:

  • Cider Press: this is used for pressing the apples and getting the apple juice.
  • Fermenting Vessel: apple juice and yeast is added to the fermentation vessel to start the fermentation process.
  • Airlock: this is used during the fermentation process to allow gasses to escape.
  • Hydrometer: this is needed to measure the sugar content in the cider.
  • Auto Siphon and Hose: this is used to transfer the cider into the bottles or containers.
  • Bottles and Containers: the type of bottle or container that is used depends on the users preferences.
  • Scale: this is needed for measuring ingredients such as sugar.
  • Acid/PH Tester: testing the cider is vital for balancing the acidity of the beverage.

Of course the proper cleaning and sanitizing is needed on all the equipment (as well as cups, spoons, measuring tools, etc.) before it touches the cider. There is a difference between cleaning and sanitizing. Cleaning removes what can be seen on the surface where sanitizing removes unseen contaminants.

Bottles of freshly produced hard cider after the cider-making process.

Step 3: Fermentation

The third step of the cider-making process is fermentation. Fermentation is the process by which apple juice is made into cider. Brewer’s yeast (not baking yeast) is added to the apple juice and together they convert into alcohol. Sugar may need to be added to the cider during fermentation depending on how much is being produced. The apple juice has natural sugars already in it, but more may need to be added. Ingredients such as fruit, acid, and tannin may need to be added depending on the recipe. Use the hydrometer to measure the sugar content in the cider.

The fermentation process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. This depends on the amount of yeast that is added and the amount of cider that is being produced. The airlock needs to be attached to allow gasses to escape. According to Expert Brewing, the container needs to be placed in an environment that is 65 to 75 degrees (the closer to 65 the better). It is important to carefully monitor the cider during the fermentation process. The cider could become over-fermented if it is not watched closely.

Fermentation in progress.

Step 4: Bottling and Aging

The fourth step in the cider-making process is bottling and aging. Before the cider is bottled it needs to be racked. This means the cider needs to be transferred from the fermentation vessel to a clean container. This can be done using the siphon and hose. Depending on the type of cider and the recipe, additional ingredients may need to be added after the cider is racked.

Aging is done to improve both the flavor and aroma of the cider. This can be done using barrel aging, bottle conditioning, or cold storage. Once again hydrometers are used to check the gravity (amount of sugar) in the cider. Barrel aging involves aging the cider in oak barrels which adds a woody flavor to the cider. Bottle conditioning is where additional sugar and yeast are added to the bottled cider; this causes a secondary fermentation which improves the flavor. Cold storage is where the cider is stored in a low temperature area.

The cider is then bottled using the auto-siphon, tubing, and bottle filler. The bottle cap needs to be put on loosely while the other bottles are being filled. This allows CO2 gas to fill up the headspace of the bottle. Then the cap is crimped on with a bottle capper.

Step 5: The Most Important Step of the Cider-Making Process – Enjoy!

The cider-making process is not a quick or easy task. However, the final product makes this time consuming activity well worth the wait. Now that the cider has been produced it is ready for sale and consumption. The cider-making process involves a lot of trial and error; this is the time to try the batch and decide what was done well and what can be done differently next time.