Diageo to slash water use in half

Drinks giant Diageo has vowed to improve its water efficiency by 50%, replenish water in water-stressed areas and return all waste water back to the environment as part of an ambitious new water stewardship strategy.

The Water Blueprint, published today (15 April), supports Diageo’s 2020 sustainability and responsibility targets published late last year. It details how the Guinness and Smirnoff producer will protect and manage its water resources as the business expands into emerging markets across the globe.

“As Diageo’s footprint has expanded, particularly in emerging markets, I firmly believe that managing water responsibly will be core to supporting the future growth of our business,” said Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes. “I am proud of our strong track record in improving our performance on managing water in our own operations, as well as our Water of Life programme which brings safe water and sanitation to millions of people.”

Ambitious target

Diageo’s Water Blueprint is based on four core areas where the company will increase its efforts: in its sourcing of raw materials; in its own operations; within the communities in which it operates; and through local and global advocacy for best practice in water stewardship.

Water Blueprint targets include:

Reducing water use through a 50% improvement in water use efficiency
Return 100% of waste water from operations to the environment
Replenish water-stressed areas with the equivalent amount of water used in final products which have been made in water-stressed areas (through projects such as reforestation, wetland recovery, and improved farming techniques)
Equipping suppliers with tools to protect water resources in water-stressed areas
Developing  Water of Life community projects in water-stressed areas where production sites are located
Ensuring appropriate access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene for all employees in premises under Diageo’s control.


Menezes added: “Looking to the future, we recognise that we have a responsibility to strengthen our commitment and enhance our programmes if we are to make an even more meaningful impact.

“Through our new Water Blueprint we will focus on our broader supply chain, drive greater innovation and adopt new ways of working with new partners. These steps forward will see us making a real difference to the environment, economy and communities in so many countries where we operate.”

Writing exclusively for edie this week, Diageo’s head of water, environment and agriculture sustainability Michael Alexander explains how and why businesses must collaborate to address the critical issue of water scarcity. Read the full article here.

Diageo’s new water strategy has been welcomed by green groups and water charities. WaterAid chief executive Barbara Frost said: “We welcome Diageo’s Water Blueprint and encourage all businesses, governments and civil society to play their part in solving the water and sanitation crisis by making a solid commitment to managing water sources responsibly.”

Sustainability strategy

The Water Blueprint has been cited by Diageo as a “critical supporting pillar” of its 20 sustainability and responsibility targets published in December 2014 – all of which are aligned to the emerging United Nations Sustainable Development goals.

Diageo recently appointed David Croft its first global sustainable development director – David Croft – who is responsible for the firm’s sustainability strategy going forward.

Luke Nicholls

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