ST. CROIX, USVI, April 15, 2010 -- The U.S. Virgin Islands and Illinois-based Fortune Brands today moved forward in their major commitment to environmental improvements by breaking ground on the Cruzan Rum wastewater treatment system. The new facility on the island of St. Croix comes as part of the U.S. Virgin Islands government's 30-year partnerships with its rum makers to modernize the industry and set new standards for sustainable rum production.
"Today's groundbreaking at a site that first made rum in 1760 is an historic moment for the U.S. Virgin Islands' rum industry," said U.S. Virgin Islands Governor John P. deJongh, Jr. "Our partnership with Fortune Brands invests in environmentally friendly rum production -- but also does much more. Together we are transforming the entire Caribbean rum industry, making it cleaner, more efficient and economically healthier."
The state-of-the-art Cruzan Rum wastewater treatment plant will offer environmental benefits throughout the production process. Each day, the Cruzan Rum system will prevent the release of 150,000 pounds of chemical oxygen demand into the ocean. By filtering and reusing water from the fermentation process, it will cut freshwater consumption by almost 40 percent per proof gallon of rum produced. A new fermentation and distillation process will use advanced scrubber technology to recover ethanol, lowering emissions of volatile organic compounds by more than 90 percent. Mechanical vapor recompression will evaporate excess water, recycle that vapor, compress it and reuse the water, increasing energy efficiency.
The U.S. Virgin Islands government and Fortune Brands recognize the mutual benefits of collaborating to grow the Cruzan Rum brand, ensure environmental and production benefits and significantly increase local government revenue that can be reinvested in economic development. The long-term public-private partnership ensures Cruzan Rum will be made exclusively on St. Croix, keeping the company's jobs and economic impact in the United States for at least 30 years.
"The U.S. Virgin Islands' economic and environmental plans are one and the same," said Governor deJongh. "Our partnership with Fortune Brands strengthens our rum industry to achieve both fiscal and sustainability goals. We are protecting our natural environment and cultivating our business environment for the good of the U.S. Virgin Islanders."
"This state-of-the-art treatment plant will enhance protection of St. Croix's precious natural resources by reducing freshwater usage, reducing landfill waste, reducing air emissions, creating products for beneficial re-use, and eliminating visible wastewater discharge into the ocean -- once and for all," said Gary Nelthropp, president and chief executive officer of Cruzan Rum.
"We are incredibly proud to be partnering with the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands to help set a new U.S. rum industry standard for environmental protection with the new treatment plant that will rise on this site," said Matt Shattock, chief executive officer of Beam Global Spirits & Wine, the spirits business of Fortune Brands and parent of Cruzan Rum. "I'm pleased to join the Cruzan team in thanking Governor deJongh for his leadership and foresight in bringing to life innovative economic development strategies here on St. Croix -- strategies designed to ensure a vital rum industry that contributes to the long-term economic stability and environmental sustainability of the territory."
The agreement with Fortune Brands was enacted following a 2008 public-private initiative between the U.S. Virgin Islands government and Diageo, owner of Captain Morgan rum. The Diageo agreement successfully keeps Captain Morgan on American soil for the next 30 years rather than see the company locate in a U.S. territory or foreign country with lower environmental standards and protections. As the U.S. Virgin Islands works with Diageo to grow production and expand the Captain Morgan brand, the agreement also furthers the territory's rum industry modernization plan. Diageo is building an environmentally friendly distillery with sustainable features such as a closed-loop water system and organic waste reclamation. Rum production at Diageo's Captain Morgan distillery, which is being constructed in accordance with LEED certification principles, is slated to commence in 2011.