The savings followed the introduction of Diageo’s Water Blueprint in April this year, and a recognition that water stewardship is vital to the business.

“For the alcohol industry, water scarcity demands particular attention given that water is the main ingredient in all alcoholic beverages,” said the report .

Diageo, which owns Smirnoff, Guinness and Johnny Walker, said its water efficiency had increased by 10.4%, reducing absolute water withdrawals by 2.87 billion litres. In water-stressed locations, wasted water was cut by a third.

For example, at a factory in the drought stricken-state of Ceará in Brazil, changes were made to the way sugar cane was grown, washed and processed. Diageo also invested in new measures such as closed cooling water circuits and an indirect heating system which returns distillation condensate to the factory boilers.

The amount of water needed to make a litre of alcohol fell from 85 litres to 13.

The report added: “Water stewardship is our highest environmental priority, and we have set ourselves the target of reducing water use in our operations by improving water use efficiency by 50% worldwide.”

The World Bank expects water scarcity to affect 2.8 billion people directly by 2025.

Complete strategy

Diageo also cut its carbon emissions by 9% in the last year and by a third since 2007. The company said the reduction was thanks to the “cumulative impacts of multiple energy efficiency initiatives and switches to renewable fuels, predominately biogas recovery and reuse.”

The drinks giant reduced waste to landfill by 48.5% compared to 2014, and by 85% since 2007, against a goal of eliminating it altogether by 2020.

The report explained: “We have made progress through continuously improving how we segregate waste to enable recovery and reuse. We have also reduced the overall amount of material we use, found alternative uses for waste including in agriculture, recycling, and recovering waste for energy.”

For more information on green beverages, check out Liquid assets, edie’s guide to sustainable alcohol.

Diageo Annual Report – Sustainability and Responsibility Infographic

Brad Allen

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