Diageo, one of the world’s biggest drinks companies, has opened a new rum distillery in St Croix, on the US Virgin Islands. It is the latest investment in sustainable production by the firm and, together with the recent opening of the Roseisle Distillery in Scotland, reflects a broader commitment to improving its environmental performance across the global business.

The two plants cost £150M and are the “next generation” of environmentally sustainable production facilities, according to the company.

The St Croix facility will make rum for the Captain Morgan brand in the US using a distillery and barrel warehouse that sets a new standard for environmentally robust production. The warehouse buildings use natural warehouse lighting and roof ventilation systems to lower energy use and feature rainwater harvesting systems. The by-products from production at the distillery will be biologically degraded to generate gas for use as fuel in the plant, creating a renewable energy source for the site that reduces its annual carbon emissions by around 15,000 tonnes a year.

Water consumption will be kept to a minimum as the distillery will capture and recycle about 90% of washwater through a closed-loop water system. The new 20-million-proof-gallon distillery also follows the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification principles, the leading environmental building benchmark in the US.

“There are a number of steps towards environmental sustainability for Diageo – using energy and water more efficiently, switching to resources that are naturally replenished, and finding productive ways to re-use our by-products,” says David Gosnell, Diageo’s president of global supply and procurement. “The goals we’ve set ourselves at Diageo are ambitious and we recognise that it will be a challenging journey. As a company we are committed to harnessing the latest technologies available to build towards these goals and integrate our high standards of environmental management throughout the business. These new production facilities reflect good progress towards our vision where one day all our brands will be sourced and produced sustainably.”

Roseisle is the first malt distillery to be opened in Scotland in more than 30 years and believed to be Scotland’s most sustainable distillery. It uses technology to recycle distillery by-products and generate on-site bio-energy. At full capacity, Roseisle aims to reduce carbon emissions by around 13,000 tonnes a year through direct savings on fuel use for steam raising and ultimately aims to achieve near neutral use of fossil fuels and water.

On a global scale, Diageo plans to cut emissions at wholly-owned sites by 50%, increase water efficiency by 30%, reduce the pollution associated with wastewater by 60% and reduce waste sent to landfill by 100% – all by 2015.

Diageo’s brands include Johnnie Walker, Guinness, Smirnoff, J&B, Baileys, Cuervo, Tanqueray and Captain Morgan. Its products are sold in more than 180 countries around the world.


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