Glenmorangie beats the dram for ISO 14001 certification

When world famous whisky producer, The Glenmorangie Company, decided to embark on certification to ISO 14001 it saw it as an opportunity to put a strategy in place that could continually improve its environmental management credentials. Rob Shepherd discovers the benefits it has brought the company and why it feels that others should follow its example.

The Glenmorangie Company's history stretches back to 1843 when William Matheson, acquired Morangie Farm and converted a brewery that existed on the site into a distillery. Glenmorangie acquired Ardbeg Distillery on Islay in 1997, and then went on to become part of LVMH, Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton's luxury brand portfolio in 2005, The Glenmorangie Company has two of the most distinctive names in the world of whisky, with Glenmorangie Original recognised as Scotland's favourite single malt whisky, whilst Ardbeg has a niche, cult, passionate following as the Ultimate Islay Malt.

Heritage trail

Although it boasts a rich heritage, the company takes a thoroughly modern approach to its business operations, and this is evident in its attitude towards environmental management.

In order to demonstrate its commitment to continual improvement in this area, The Glenmorangie Company recently became certified to ISO 14001. As a leading international standard it helps an organisation identify and systematically reduce any harmful effects it may have on the environment by developing processes to lower energy and raw materials use, reduce waste and pollution, and mitigate the risk of emergency situations. It not only ensures that a company is environmentally friendly, it also makes it more profitable and efficient.

John McMullen is Glenmorangie's Compliance Manager and was instrumental in the decision to pursue certification. He says, 'We've always taken this subject very seriously and as well as having internal procedures in place, along with other members of the Scotch Whisky Association in 2010 we helped devise an environmental strategy that agreed targets for the improvement of the whole industry.'

Mind the gap

Before completing its certification audit Glenmorangie asked NQA to complete a gap analysis to find out what measures needed to be introduced or improved upon.

When asked why it decided to do this, McMullen responds, 'The gap analysis was incredibly helpful in providing us with an indication about where we were in our journey towards compliance. Put simply, it cast an impartial external view over what we were doing and helped us identify, plan and prepare what we wanted to achieve and how to go about it. I would advise any company looking to gain ISO 14001 certification to undertake a gap analysis before doing anything else.'

Helping hand

ISO 14001 requires every aspect of the company to be considered and the plan put in place by Glenmorangie does just this. Alternative power sources, waste management and energy efficiency measures are all included in its improvement plan, while regular measurement and a training programme have also been implemented.

'Going through the process, and having an external auditor, makes it clear to all our staff that this is a priority for the company and we need to secure full stakeholder buy in,' comments McMullen. 'This is fundamentally important to the success of what we are trying to achieve.'

Environmental management is a real team effort at Glenmorangie and all members of staff have fully engaged with the process. This brings a sense of teamwork and engenders an open and vibrant corporate culture, where ideas can be shared. Although the company provides regular training, awareness sessions, toolbox talks and newsletters, members of staff are also encouraged to suggest ways to meet environmental objectives.

One example of this is in the bottling plant itself, where machines were often being left on over the weekend, which wasted electricity and compressed air, which is a very expensive resource. McMullen says, 'We now have a procedure in place where plant is turned off when not in use for a prolonged period of time - a simple but effective way of saving energy and money.'

Words of wisdom

For The Glenmorangie Company ISO 14001 certification has clearly made a significant impact and McMullen believes that companies of all sizes across a diverse range of market sectors can experience similar benefits.

'ISO 14001 provides a great framework for environmental success,' he states. 'It has allowed us to build sustainability into the very heart of what we do and is a great vehicle for coordinating our activities. I can't recommend it enough and would urge others to embrace the challenge and not be daunted by it.'

However, McMullen warns companies to be realistic about what they can achieve within a specific timeframe. He comments, 'If a job's worth doing, it's worth doing well. To get the most out of the process, sufficient time must be given to it along with a dedication to achieving defined objectives within a set period.'

Pick and choose

When it comes to picking which certification body to work with, it is important to choose wisely. John McMullen's final word of advice is to ask the right questions, and he concludes, 'We talked to four organisations before making our final decision. NQA is firm but fair and I always feel that achieving our environmental management objectives is as important to them as it is to us.'

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