How a Northumberland farm became one of the UK’s most environmentally-conscious businesses
Marlish produce sustainably sourced soft drinks that are low-calorie and full of flavour.
Nestled in the Northumbrian hills, Marlish Farm had been a traditional, family-owned working farm for generations.
In 2013, the family decided to install a bore hole to provide a sustainable water supply for their grazing animals. After rigorous testing of the water’s catchment area, they realised they had tapped into a historic underground aquifer: a completely sustainable water resource, naturally replenished by rainwater falling through the Northumbrian Hills.
This water takes hundreds of years to naturally filter through the local rock strata, gaining a high level of purity and mineralisation along the way.
Upon discovering the unique purity and quality of the natural water source they had uncovered, the future of the family’s rural farm was changed forever. Spotting a gap in the market for a sustainably produced spring water brand, cousins Joe Evans and Elizabeth Walton came together to create Marlish – a soft drinks brand that could bring their unique, Northumbrian spring water to the masses.
But the sustainability of the brand doesn’t stop there.
Today, the farm is also home to a factory powered 100% by renewable energy, with solar, wind and biomass energy combining to enable the team to produce and package their range of drinks entirely on-site – meaning their carbon footprint is significantly reduced.
The cousins have also installed a canning line using UK-manufactured, 100% recyclable BPA free aluminium cans for their packaging. And, thanks to cutting-edge investment, implement new filling technology to ensure they use 50% less CO2 for their carbonated drinks than their competitors.
In 2019, when they first launched their canned spring and flavoured water range, Marlish Waters Limited became the first brand in the UK to can spring water.
‘Sustainability has always been at the heart of everything we do at Marlish, right from the very beginning,’ says co-founder Joe. ‘Our sustainable investments over the years have included on-site solar generation, the creation of a wildlife corridor, an extensive tree planting programme and the launch of the UK’s first canned-at-source spring water.
‘Our ultimate aim is to be a driving force for change in the environmental impact of consumables. If we can play even a small part in encouraging more people and businesses to ditch plastic and switch to cans or glass, or to simply consider the environmental footprint of the products they consume, then we’re well on our way.’
Having started entrepreneurial life by launching an initial range of two spring waters (Still and Sparkling) and four flavoured sparkling spring waters (Brazilian Orange, Raspberry, Sicilian Lemon and Elderflower) into local hospitality and retail businesses, the brand soon gathered pace and expanded nationally. Using only the finest fruit extracts to provide natural flavourings, their range of sugar free, low-calorie flavoured and unflavoured canned spring waters rapidly became a hit amongst environmental and health-conscious consumers.
And it wasn’t long before Joe and Elizabeth decided to expand the range further.
In 2020, the brand launched its range of nine sustainably produced tonics and mixers: English Tonic Water, Ginger Ale, Premium Lemonade, Raspberry Tonic Water, Rhubarb & Ginger Ale, Soda Water, Dandelion & Burdock Tonic Water, Distillers Choice Tonic Water and Elderflower Tonic Water. The aim? To offer the health and environmentally-conscious consumer a cleaner alternative to the tonics and mixers currently available.
In June of this year, they developed this further by re-launching the range in new 150ml cans – meaning they’re infinitely recyclable, cheaper and easier to recycle than glass, take less time to chill in the fridge (using less energy to do so), and, at 150ml, are the perfect quantity for a single serve and mixer, meaning no leftovers are going to waste. ‘Canning our tonics and mixers range really was a no-brainer!’ laughs Joe.
Most recently, the sustainable soft drink producers have expanded their offering again by launching their canned-at-source Marlish Sparkling Pink Grapefruit. Naturally light in calories (less than 7 per can), but packed full of flavour, Marlish Sparking Pink Grapefriut Spring Water combines the finest pink grapefruit extracts and oils with Marlish’s slowly filtered Spring Water to create a sharp, clean beverage that provides ultimate refreshment.
And as the brand continues to grow, Joe and Elizabeth remain just as committed to looking after and protecting their local environment as they were the day they launched Marlish.
‘Looking out for the local environment and the animals that share the valley is paramount,’ says Joe. ‘As a business, it’s essential that we ensure we’re giving back to the land just as much as we’re taking out.
‘To date, we’ve planted more than 6,000 trees and are constantly developing new and innovative conservation projects to encourage the creation of habitats for local wildlife.
‘The catchment area for our water is the beautiful hills and moorland of the Northumberland National Park. This protected area of unique scenery and geology has enabled us to create a range of drinks that taste as good as nature intended. For that reason alone, we must be grateful, and protect and preserve it to the best of our abilities.’
To find out more about Marlish Waters’ soft drinks ranges, visit their website.